What can we learn about pet health from a dedicated owner?

We love the bond between owners and their pets, and we know that a pet owner’s primary concern is the health and well-being of their furry friends.

We interviewed Ray Retson, a pet owner just like you and I, to find out what he believes are the most important things to consider in keeping your companion at their healthiest.

Firstly Ray, tell us about your pets and how long have you been a pet owner?

I always had a pet when I was younger and even later in my teenage years. I think it helped that my family was always very animal orientated. At the moment we have a dog called Daisy, a cat called Emma and a few fish. My partner has also always had pets, including a horse and a duck. So you could say we’re very used to it.

When you got Daisy and Emma did you know how to look after and manage their health

Because I grew up with pets I have been used to the responsibility and that’s one of the reasons we decided to introduce them to our family so that our children could gain a similar education, understand what to do and let them take on some of the responsibility. It’s great for the kids to learn and pick up new tips and skills. I must admit that we do the majority of the walking but we’ve given them various health related tasks throughout the week. For example my youngest, Fraser, has to feed the fish and tend to Daisy at certain times. It’s great for all the family to play an active part and learn little life skills.

What do you do to look after and manage your pet(s) health?

Daisy has to have her teeth brushed regularly because of a stomach problem she has. Because of this she can only eat hypoallergenic food. Most of it’s dry, like biscuits and that’s not always good for her teeth because it sticks in them. To combat the problem we have a finger toothbrush which is basically a rubber cap with nobbles on and we brush her teeth several times a week. I do know people who do it far more often than that as well.The important thing to remember is that all animals are different. In our experience cats are slightly easier because they’re generally self-maintained and heal a lot quicker.Dogs on the other hand are madder and require more care. People try and treat them like another human and that’s not good for them mentally or physically. They shouldn’t be on the sofa all the time and giving them a biscuit just because you are having one isn’t good for their weight. It’s about applying a certain amount of common sense really.

Do you have any health tips you can provide our readers with?

Daisy will go out with me twice daily walking, but could comfortably cover 100 miles if she wanted. I can’t quite mange that yet, so we monitor some extra exercise on our treadmill in our home. When it comes to feeding time we’ve started hiding healthy dog treats in different parts of the house and garden so that she has to work slightly harder to find them. It’s all worth it in the end.

If you have any questions or comments about the way you’re totally committed to your pet’s health, leave us a comment below!

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A pet specialist provides health insights

Patsy Keith is a retired vet and animal health expert. Continuing our theme of pet health she explains that keeping your household pet healthy doesn’t just require outdoor activity but often love and care on a daily basis.
Patsy, why did you decide to dedicate your life to animals and pet health?

I, like so many others, have found great loyalty in the animals I have worked with and looked after. People get confused about animal and pet health because they assume that they must take a dog out for a long walk or ensure that their cat is left outdoors at certain times. While this is true there are many activities you can do inside particularly during the colder months.
Regular play and monitoring things like your companions dental care should also be considered. Keeping your household pet happy and providing them with the necessary food is vital too.

Do you think that people know enough about pet health?

It’s a very good question and one that remains open for debate I think. Sometimes the reality when a pet arrives is different to how one might have imagined beforehand. Animals are very in tune with human emotions and therefore have to be stimulated in a similar way. Keep your pet healthy by introducing things like pet toys or provide them with healthy treats. A lot of the time it’s common sense really.

The thing about a household pet is that they require time, attention, responsibility and ultimately they carry the same health risks as humans. When this is accepted by pet owners animals will live happier and healthy lifestyles.
It’s not just the animals that benefit either is it?

Several organisations have conducted research over the years in order to see if a pet’s well-being can be linked to human health. And I think it’s probably true. We already know that people who have heart issues or a recovering from a stroke are encouraged to do more with their dogs. Having a pet is also a good way of helping people deal with a loss or mental health issues like anxiety and depression. It’s incredibly beneficial.
Have you any pet health tips for 2016?

I’m not sure if everyone is aware but in April it will be compulsory for all dogs in England to be micro-chipped. A collar or tag, especially if they are outdoors for hours, could fall off so a microchip is a more permanent way of identifying your dog. What’s the link to health I hear you ask? Well if your dog is lost or distressed it probably stands a greater chance of being returned to its owner where it will be happy if a microchip is added. I think it’s a great idea.

And finally, do you have any pet health tips of your own?

Routine, regular activity (be it a walk or whatever) and a healthy diet. Master these three and your pet stands a great chance of living a healthy life in my opinion. What do you do to ensure that you are happy and healthy? Well apply it to your pet. Sometimes we just need a hug and there’s nothing wrong with giving your pet that after a hard day.

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Top 10 Tips for Top-Notch Pet Health

At PetSafe® we are dedicated to the health of our loved ones, so we thought we’d share our 10 tips to ensure that they stay healthy all year round!

1. Feed only recommended amounts

This varies for the age, size, and exercise that your pet has, and for the best information we suggest talking it over with your vet. It is common that pets benefit from set meal times. Our Eatwell™ Pet Feeder is available with portioned feeders and a set timer to allow the regular mealtimes they need.

2. Keep human food on your own plate

Dogs and cats have more sensitive stomachs than humans. Although they love to eat whatever and whenever, it can sometimes result in a very sick pet. Foods such as onions, grapes, chocolate, and sausage should be kept well away from your four legged friends.

3. Have a yearly vet trip

Preventing long-term illness or diseases can be as easy as an annual trip to the vets. Though there may not be any visible signs, having a check-up for your pet once a year can track ageing signs, and help adapt to any changes. Early diagnosis of conditions can be found through radiographs, such as lung and heart disease.

4. Pay attention to dental health

Dental disease is the most common disease in pets, and can affect the liver, kidneys and brain tissue. Signs of issues can be found in bad breath, swollen or bleeding gums, or trouble eating. It is important to monitor your pets teeth and use dental chews to prevent any issues and keep them smiling! For more information take a look at our dental health infographic here.

5. Hydration

During a recent survey, almost half of our audience didn’t know how much water their pet required. It is important all year round to ensure pets are properly hydrated, and to know what signs to look out for to spot dehydration. In dogs watch out for lethargy and sunken eyes, and in cats watch out for refusal to eat and excessive drooling. For more information check out ‘are you doing enough to keep your pet hydrated?’.

6. Physical exercise

Physical exercise and a balanced diet are two ways to keep your pets healthy. Even though the weather can be temperamental it is important to take dogs out for regular exercise, and to allow cats some outdoor time.

7. Keep pets engaged

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks – but they’re wrong! It is important for pets to be engaged in playtime even indoors. Why not set up a FroliCat® DART™ Automatic rotating laser light, which you can adjust for up to 20 minutes of play time.

8. Fight fleas

The best way to control fleas is to prevent them. Flea eggs can be embedded in fibres such as carpets and bedding, and vacuuming thoroughly anywhere your pet may have been with fleas prevents the cycle of constant infection.

9. Vaccinate

Vaccinations for kittens and puppies are integral for their health before they are able to interact with other animals or go outside. However, once fully grown, pets still require yearly boosters in order to fend off diseases.

10. Groom frequently

Regular grooming not only allows you to keep your pets coat clean and manageable, but also allows the chance to check for any skin abnormalities. Brushing distributes natural oils across the fur and untangles any knots before they become matted. As well as keeping fur healthy, the interaction helps form bonds with your pets, and gets them used to human interaction.

These are just 10 of the ways we can keep our pets healthy, if there is anything you think we’ve missed or you’d like to see more information on then comment below, we love hearing your feedback.

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