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Sunday, January 29, 2006

Proper Nutrition for a Healthy Pet

You may think you feed your pet well but there may be little nutritional value in the daily diet of your cat or dog. We all look for ways to budget and save money but spending a little more on commercial pet foods to ensure your pet’s health is well worth it. Cheap dry foods are usually filled with preservatives and harmful ingredients. Many commercial pet foods, especially the less expensive brands don’t provide our pets with the amount of proteins, vitamins and minerals that they need for optimum health. Often they contain waste products, fillers, artificial preservatives and other ingredients that are not healthy.

Cats and dogs should have raw meat and vegetables added to their diet as these foods contain the most vitamins and minerals. While moist commercial pet foods may contain more nutrients than dry food, vitamin and mineral supplements may still be needed to ensure proper nutrition. While cats are a little more finicky about their cuisine, most cats and dogs eat food items similar to humans.

It seems to be a popular trend these days to cook for one’s pets. I know quite a few people who cook such meals as meatloaf for their dogs to cheese omelets for their cats, not to mention homemade biscuits and other treats. For those who choose to prepare meals for their pets, this is fine but do keep in mind the importance of adding raw food to the pet’s diet as well. We all know that cooking removes much of the nutrients from food so in order for the diet to be healthy it needs to be well balanced.

Vitamins can be essential to keeping your pet healthy especially if they suffer from a vitamin deficiency or a poor immune system. For example, Vitamin E helps to fight disease and Vitamin C boosts immunity and protects against infection. Certain vitamin deficiencies may produce physical symptoms. For instance, a deficiency in Vitamin B may manifest itself in symptoms such as skin allergies or eye problems. Many behavior problems may be the result of vitamin deficiencies as well.

You can add other supplements such as iron to your pet’s diet too. Fresh garlic added to pet’s food can help boost the immune system and also helps to repel fleas. A little apple cider vinegar added to the food or water helps improve skin conditions and keeps the fur healthy. Pet owners may want to consider adding kelp, which can be purchased at a health food store, to the diet. It is rich in most vitamins and minerals.

You can also add new food to the pet’s diet gradually so that their digestive system has time to adjust to the new diet. Abrupt changes in diet can cause stomach upset such as vomiting or diarrhea. When purchasing commercial pet foods keep in mind that labels are sometimes misleading. Try to feed your pet a healthy balanced diet. If you have any concerns about your pet’s diet or adding vitamins, minerals or other supplements to your pet’s feeding schedule consult your veterinarian. He or she should be able to address any concerns you may have as well as make suggestions or provide alternative solutions to any problems your pet may have in dietary adjustments. A healthy diet leads to a healthy, happy pet.

Copyright © 2006 Ian White

Monday, January 23, 2006

Does Your Pet Need an Exercise Program?

Pet owners are being urged to make sure their animal companions get enough exercise to keep them healthy. Purdue University wellness veterinarian Lorraine Corriveau says pets, as well as people, should get 30 to 45 minutes of daily exercise. Veterinarians estimate that 25 percent of dogs and cats are obese. Those extra pounds can cause a multitude of health problems for your pet.

Obese dogs run the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure just like their human counterparts. Both dogs and cats are also at an increased risk for diabetes if they are obese. Other animal health problems that stem from obesity include difficulty breathing, and skin and joint problems. So it makes sense to put your pet on an exercise program if they are overweight. The question is how do you determine if rover or tiger should shed a few pounds?

Corriveau offers these tips to help you determine if your pet is overweight:
- Does your pet have a bulging waistline when you look down at them from above?
- Does your pet's belly sag and/or wobble side to side?
- You should be able to easily feel your pet's ribs.
- A good estimate of the ideal body weight for a dog or cat is the weight they were when they first reached adulthood.

If you determine that your pet needs to slim down a bit, here are some suggestions on how to make sure they get enough exercise.

- Take your pet for walks – you can leash train cats as well as dogs.

- Dogs love to run after a ball or stick that you throw.

- Take a flashlight and let your cat leap and jump around following the beam of light.

- Treadmills are trendy for both people and pets, but make sure you research the correct way to exercise your companion animal on these machines so you don't injure them.

You may also need to consult with a veterinarian to find the correct weight-management program for your companion animal since you may be feeding your pet too many calories. Your veterinarian can help you determine exactly how much food is needed for your pet to get enough nutrients to stay healthy and still lose weight.

Copyright © 2006 Ian White