If you are a pet owner, your know your life has been made better by your furry or feathered companion. In fact, studies have shown that pet ownership can lead to increased fitness, reduced stress, and even lower cholesterol levels. On top of that, the social support that pets provide keeps us in good spirits and gives us the inspiration we need to continue our healthy lifestyle.
But this doesn’t happen on its own. Pet ownership is a continuous circle of care, so in order for your pet to provide you with improved health, you must also take the proper steps to care for your pet. The keys to continued wellbeing for you both include a safe environment, physical activity, and a healthy diet.
In order to retain all of the health benefits of owning a pet for as long as possible, it is important that you practice preventative health techniques. Basically, you want to make smart decisions now so that you don’t face a health emergency in the future. The first step is to make it a point to see the doctor and veterinarian on a regular basis so they can make sure that you and your pets are healthy, up to date on vaccinations, and recommend any necessary changes to ensure that you both stay in good shape.
Practicing preventative health also means creating a proper home environment. Start by making sure that your home is up to code. For instance, years ago, many homes were built with drywall that included asbestos, which can lead to breathing issues. If you live in an older house, updates may be necessary for the wellbeing of you and your pet. There are other steps you can take as well, such as putting locks on cabinets that store harmful cleaning supplies, hiding choking hazards, and keeping trash cans covered so your pet can’t find unhealthy food. All of these easy moves can prevent an unnecessary trip to the vet.
What’s more, it is natural for owners to want to engage with their pets, but when they are rolling around the house and playing outside, animals are bound to attract germs. Always wash your hands after playing with your pet and before eating or drinking to prevent the spread of those unwanted germs. Also, avoid the effects of parasites in your pet’s feces by always cleaning up after them. For cats, clean litter boxes on a regular basis as well.
Pets and their owners need to keep active with regular exercise. For humans, doctors recommended three to five sessions a week with a mixture of cardiovascular training like running and biking, along with strength training with free weights. When you are not exercising in the traditional sense, then staying active with regular walks and sports will keep you in good shape. Even bowling can be beneficial for weight loss and improved balance.
Your pet should come with you for this exercise when possible. Going to the dog park or bringing your pet along for runs will keep both of you in good shape. As with humans, letting your pets stretch their legs not only keeps them physically strong but also increases the amount of anandamide in their brain, which provides them with a feeling of bliss that keeps them going throughout the day.
Even indoor pets need to stay physically active. Cats can stretch and get the fitness they require with scratching posts and cat trees. For the best results, get a variety of posts, including horizontal and vertical models and a mix of rope and cardboard. Also, allow your pets to have plenty of toys that they can hold or chase. Keep all of these items in a busy area of the house, so they get plenty of use.
A proper diet is another milestone of healthy living for you and your pet. Eating right is key for maintaining the physical lifestyle that you need. For pet owners, a balanced diet contains fruits and vegetables, a good supply of protein, and plenty of water, while also limiting your intake of salty and sugary foods.
The proper diet for your pet depends on the species. For dogs, a high-quality store-bought kibble is perfectly fine, with meat, fish, and vegetables being great supplements. For cats, canned food is ideal because it is usually lower in carbohydrates and contains moisture, which is good because cats often do not get enough water. Regardless of the type of pet, it is important that they are fed what they need, when they need it, as recommended by your veterinarian.
A healthy diet has also been found to reduce stress, and pets can help with that too. Pets are companions that give our lives meaning, and when you have an entity in your life that you can enjoy and confide in, you feel less anxious. Pets also give you an excuse to get outside and into social situations, which can help you gain more human companions as well. Being out in the world with your pets gives them a sense of purpose as well, along with the healthy mental stimulation that keeps their tails wagging day after day.
There is no doubt about it; having a pet in your life makes every day that much sweeter. Staying active and healthy can help you both make the most of every happy moment.