I hope you enjoyed our first Newsletter and welcome to the Second Issue. This month we touch on one of the days in October 2016, which has been dedicated to our wonderful pet companions and their health issues. We continue the series on foods which are definite no no’s for dogs and cats and which owners should note for reference. After all, we don’t want to feed them foods which make them ill or shorten their lives, do we.
In this issue:
- How Companion Pets can improve our health
- Pet Obesity Awareness Day on October 12th
- Dangerous Foods for Dogs and Cats
How Companion Pets Can Improve Our Health
It seems that the bond between mankind and animals has been around for thousands of years with a recent find in Israel of a 12,000 year old human skeleton with its hand resting on the skeleton of a 6 month old wolf puppy. It is only recently that studies of the effects of the human and companion animal bond has begun to reveal the many health benefits to owners. We have listed just a few below.
Improved Heart Health
According to a study by the National Institute of Health in the USA, adults who had suffered heart attacks, and who were also dog owners, were far more likely to be alive one year after the attack than adults who had also suffered heart attacks but were not dog owners. Even if the heart attack was a severe one the dog owners still stood a better chance of survival.
Heart Rate and Blood Pressure
Another study has looked closely at the lives of 240 married couples. The pet owners were found to have lower heart rates and blood pressure than those who did not own pets. The tests were performed when the couples were both at rest and under stressed conditions and results were the same. Pet owners also seem to recover more quickly from stress than non-pet owners.
Other researchers have found that just petting a friendly and familiar dog lowered blood pressure, slowed heart rate, relaxed muscle tension and improved breathing.
Effect of Pets on Children
The effect of pet ownership on children is evident in a number of areas. Firstly, those children who are born into a house which already has a pet dog, and have exposure to the dog from infancy, can benefit from the development of their immune system which can reduce the likelihood of certain allergic diseases.
Having a pet in the household can also teach children about responsibility which will benefit them in later life. Having to care for a pet should be shared around the family members, including children, so that they learn to behave responsibly towards and around their pet and to look after their welfare, being involved in their everyday meals and their exercise. This can make them better citizens for the future.
Pets can also act as a source of comfort and empathy for children who prefer to talk to their pet when they get upset than talk to their parents or other siblings.
Assistance Dog Day was celebrated in August 2016, as it is every year. This is a day designed to recognise and celebrate the incredible role that assistance dogs play in the lives of their owners.
Assistance dogs are usually associated with acting as guide dogs to blind and partially sighted people. However, they can also support the hard of hearing by alerting them to the ringing of doorbells, telephones and other sounds which might not be recognised by their owners. Incredibly, there are a range of other roles played by these wonderful animals including support to people suffering from forms of autism, people who have balance problems and other health and psychiatric issues.
There have been several studies that show that dog owners will most probably get more exercise than many other pet owners. We don’t usually walk our cats or rabbits so smaller animal owners don’t always share in this benefit. These studies indicate that the amount of exercise owners have with their dogs is beneficial to their heart and to their weight. Active dog owners are far less likely to become obese as a result of the exercise they take.
There is, of course, also a social element to dog walking in that dog owners may make friends with other dog owners whilst exercising their pets. In fact, dog walking clubs can be formed which especially benefits those who live alone and gives them taste of sociability and companionship with other humans.
Pet Obesity Awareness Day Oct 12th
You may not have been aware of this but the number of obese cats and dogs in the USA is growing, seemingly year on year.
We have outlined the perils of pet obesity and the terrible consequences they can have for pets health and longevity in a Blog Article published recently.
Our own cat, Olivia, came to us just a year ago from living rough so we naturally gave her plenty to eat at first. She became used to this and very recently we took her to our local vet for a check up and found that she had increased her body weight by 20%,
Olivia is now on a diet as we have to practice what we warn other pet owners about. She isn’t happy about it but it has to be done to return her to an acceptable weight.
Sadly, it isn’t just the human population which is becoming obese, it is also our own companion animals. Unfortunately, it’s more likely that obese pet owners will also have obese pets as they don’t recognise, or won’t admit, the condition in themselves and so are likely to do little about their pet’s obesity.
Dangerous Foods for Cats and Dogs Part 2
This section continues the suggestions we gave in Issue 1 of our Newsletter last month.
Foods Cats Should Not Eat or Should Eat Sparingly
Alcohol: We touched on alcohol previously in Part 1 in relation to dogs but for emphasis it is vital that you DO NOT give alcohol to your pet cat or even provide them with an opportunity to imbibe. You may ask why and we can assure you that a very, very small amount, say a teaspoon, could cause liver and brain damage. A tablespoon could lead to coma or even death.
Chocolate: Dark chocolate and baking chocolate are particularly off the table for cats. Actually, no chocolate is good for cats and should be avoided completely. But dark and baking chocolate have a heavy concentration of an ingredient called theobromine, which is present to some degree in all forms of chocolate. Theobromine can cause cats problems such as irregular heart rhythms or seizures.
Caffeinated or energy drinks: None of these are good for cats as they can cause cats to have heart palpitations, muscle tremors, rapid breathing or just plain restlessness. These are not usually that good for humans but are definitely not for cats. Make sure they don’t even get to drink them accidentally.
Foods Dogs Should Not Eat or Should Eat Sparingly
Nuts: Not all nuts are toxic for dogs but all nuts are best avoided for all dogs. One of the best reasons for this is that dogs do not really chew their food, so an item like a nut may well be swallowed whole and may then stick in the dogs windpipe, causing them to choke.
However, there are also nuts which are toxic to dogs and should obviously be avoided at all costs. These are members of the walnut family and macadamia and pecan nuts. All are toxic and can cause all manner of health issues including vomiting, tremors and inability to walk.
Almonds can also affect dogs badly and can cause a bout of pancreatitis in some dogs. Pancreatitis can manifest itself in vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy and appetite loss.
Grapes and Raisins: Toxicity in grapes and raisins can even cause the death of a dog so even small amounts of either are a definite no-no. Both grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs although not necessarily in all dogs. The unfortunate truth is you don’t want to test whether or not it affects your dog as it could be fatal.
Although it has not yet been proven exactly what constituent of grapes causes problems for dogs, it most certainly does affect some dogs very badly. So, please don’t leave either grapes or raisins lying around to avoid your dog even getting a sniff of them.
Xylitol: This is a sweetener which is often added to candy, baked goods, and diet foods are often sweetened with xylitol. Although it is always best not to feed your dog human food stuffs, if you ever consider it, please check the label of whatever food it is you are considering. If it contains a sweetener call xylitol please do not feed it to your dog. It can also be found in products such as gum or toothpaste, although we’d hope that your dog never has access to either of these.
This sweetener can give rise to a drop in blood sugar levels and can also lead to liver failure. Potentially, liver failure can occur within days of ingestion. The symptoms of xylitol ingestion are vomiting, coordination issues and lethargy.
Seek the advice of your vet
If you think there is any chance that your cat or dog have eaten or drunk any of the foodstuffs above or anything else which might have caused them to be ill or look lethargic, please contact your vet quickly as time may be important or even vital in saving your pet from further suffering.
Thinking of adopting a new puppy?
If you are thinking of adopting a new puppy into your home, please do look at our new “How to” series on preparing yourself for the experience.
This is issue 2 of a 3 part series. Issue 3 can be found here.