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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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February 22, 2008

Pet Smarts: Keeping Family Members of the Canine and Feline Variety Healthy

By Aaron
18 Comments

You do everything in your power to keep yourself – and your family – healthy, but is there more you could be doing for your four-legged friend?

The following is a list of tips on how to keep your pet in tip-top condition.

Let’s Get (a) Physical:

Just like humans, pets need regular check-ups! In addition to giving pets an opportunity to get their routine vaccinations, the check-ups allow vets a chance to record any subtle changes in appearance and behavior that may be indicative of a larger health problem, and allow them to take preventive action if it appears a problem is developing.

Insurance Assurance:
Anyone who has ever taken care of a sick pet knows that their medical bills can accrue at almost the same rate as those for humans! To keep costs down, invest in pet insurance. The plans, which are available through a number of reputable agencies (the ASPCA offers one!), vary in cost depending on the level of coverage, but will generally cover most, if not all, major medical expenses. If you’re not sure which plan would work best for your pet, consult your veterinarian.

Getting Canned:

Last march, controversy erupted over contaminants in various canned and dry pet foods (of both the canine and feline variety), sending many pet owners back to their kitchens to cook up broiled chicken and rice! Today, pet food manufacturers have stepped up their game and implemented more stringent quality and safety controls. The verdict? Pet food is now generally safe, although we recommend logging on to The Human Society of the United State’s website for tips on how to protect your pet, a complete list of recalled items, and other updates.

Menu Selection:

When selecting a pet food, ask your veterinarian what percentage of your pets diet should come from protein, veggies and grains (or other carbohydrates) and look for foods that meet those recommended ratios. Beware of food sources that list a lot of fillers (even if they don’t hold the number one spot on the ingredient list) or a lot of preservatives (specifically BHA, BHT and Ethoxyquin), which some veterinarians warn might cause cancer. If in doubt, opt for holistic formulations, which contain “human grade” ingredients or turn to your own kitchen to rustle up homemade varieties. Popular ingredients include ground turkey or beef, organ meat (ick!) or eggs for the protein component, oatmeal, pasta, brown rice or potato rice, quinoa for the grains, and vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, celery, green beans and spinach.

Working It Out:

You wouldn’t advise your grandmother or your toddler to follow the same workout routine as you, and the same should go for your pet. When devising a workout plan, consult your veterinarian, who will factor in your pets age, expected range of physical activity and climate (with some pets, because of their coat or other factors, limited in how much they can workout in certain weather conditions) to come up with a routine that will keep your pet happy and healthy.

Shape Up:

Turns out it’s not just people that are getting fat – our pets are also piling on the pounds! To keep your pet in peak shape, combine a varied workout routine with a sensible diet and reserve treats for exceptional circumstances as opposed to regular snack intervals.

Puppy Proofing:
When a child first learns to walk, parents are quick to record the moment, shower their offspring with praise and then rush around like maniacs to “baby-proof” the house. But how many people can honestly say that they have puppy- (or kitty-) proofed their house? Some changes you should consider are removing or (simply moving out of reach) certain houseplants that can be poisonous if ingested (hyacinth and mistletoe to name a few), adding covers to electrical cords (which many puppies like to use as a chew toy) and closing the doors to bathrooms (where there’s a plethora of “tasty” bath and cleaning products!)

Purse Snatcher:

You might have forgotten about that candy bar, roll of antacids (or worse, bottle of pills) or other snack stowed in your backpacks, purse, or school bag, but your pet certainly hasn’t! Avoid having your pet come into contact with harmful substances (chocolate being a big no no) by stowing purses and other bags out of the reach of pets or (even better) behind closed doors!

Road Trip:

Yes, it’s adorable when you’re driving down a road and you see a puppy hanging its head out the window. But what happens when that same puppy (or rather, the owner of that puppy) gets into a car accident? The short (and not so sweet) answer? That puppy becomes a missile, a missile that, when frightened or injured, could lash out at the very people trying to help it (either you or another first responder). The solution? Invest in a pet harness that plugs directly into the seatbelt buckle, back seat barrier or other restraining device to keep them safe while riding in the car.

What are your tips to keep your furry family members in good health?

MR38, merfam, ebertek, TangoPango, *phototristan, Lasdary, Fillmore Photography Flickr Photos (CC)

Further Reading:

Top 10 Reasons to Stay Healthy

Wisebread: Make Homemade Dog Food with Your Slow-Cooker

WebMD: Owning a Cat Good for Your Heart?

Natural Cat Diet

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18 Comments on "Pet Smarts: Keeping Family Members of the Canine and Feline Variety Healthy"

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Donna
Donna
8 years 7 months ago
Aaron, Thanks for writing about this, Love It! One thing i did is put those plugs in the electrical outlet,(the ones you buy when your children are small and curious to put their fingers into the electrical outlet) if you have those, your dog can NOT put his “curious” paw into the outlet. Last week Lacie ( my little girl ShihTzu) was scratching alot, brought her to the Vet and they gave her a shot for allergies and follow medication.-Cured! I asked my Vet “What” was not good for dogs to eat. He gave me a list of “people food”… Read more »
sandypar
sandypar
8 years 7 months ago

I massage my cats every night.

Oxybeles
Oxybeles
8 years 7 months ago

http://www.naturapet.com/brands/evo.asp

Grain free Pet food!

Primal all the way!

Anna
8 years 7 months ago
“organ meat (ick!)” ????? Uh, oh, I feel a rant coming on. 🙂 Um, organs are what carnivorous animals like cats and dogs need and in the wild, what they go for first. Organ meats are chock full of nutrients and taurine, so crucial for felines, is found especially in heart muscle. Perhaps you meant ick! to animal byproducts, like chicken feathers and beaks, which are processed and added to many pet foods to boost the protein content. And asking vets for nutrition advice is often futile and sometimes even dangerous, though it is hard ot imagine, I know. Vets… Read more »
GingerFox
GingerFox
3 years 7 months ago

I have carnivorous pets (cats and dogs and ferrets) and they all eat what they are supposed to eat: raw meat, meaty bones, and insides of animals (sorry my English is pathetic, don’t know the names of those parts)
Dogs sometimes eat veggies, fruits and our leftovers, but mostly RAW MEAT, and that’s how they never go to the vet for any “chronic disease” ^^

Donna
Donna
8 years 7 months ago

Another thing i do to keep Lacie healthy, i give her a daily vitamin from the Vets office, and i break a vitamin E and pour it on her food.

Crystal
Crystal
8 years 7 months ago

Hi Donna, what a good mom you are!

My dog gets grass-fed meat and is very healthy. When out of town and someone else feeds him, I try to find good quality pre-made stuff(usually has grain). Unfortunately, he starts to get fat. He does beg for broccoli and peppers, go figure.

Migraineur
8 years 7 months ago

Unplug your shredder when not in use. Wouldn’t want any ears or tails or tongues to get stuck in it.

Donna
Donna
8 years 7 months ago

Heeeey Crystal,
Thank You, yeah, i try very hard at being a good ole’ “mother-hen” to my “dog”.
Crystal, you’re a great mom,too!!!
You’re doing all the right things for Skippy.

I have a neighbor that has 2 cats, and she feeds them tuna twice a week, they love it, she used to work for a Vet and he says tuna is good for cats.
She’s a mother hen, too, her cats are HEALTHY!

WATER- I always make sure Lacie has water available at all times, very important!!

Crystal- i’m so glad to see ya, missed ya!

Donna
Donna
8 years 7 months ago

Applying “Frontline” every month to your dog or cats shoulder blades keeps fleas, ticks AWAY!

Also, keep your pet de wormed!

Sally
Sally
8 years 7 months ago

Great post! Pet are so much more than just a pet…they really are family. I am diligent about vet appointments, I started using a doggie seat belt for any highway driving, and I am being swayed on switching to organic or holistic foods like Taste of the Wild that don’t have lots of fillers. The only thing I can’t pull the trigger on yet is the pet insurance but I haven’t ruled it out!

Arlene Smith
7 years 6 months ago

This post has good and valuable information, Is nice to see some good articles like this one, thank you.

Joanne of Open Mind Required
7 years 4 months ago
What do I do to keep my cats healthy? I feed them raw turkey, chicken and rabbit. I do not vaccinate them or give them drugs. When they become sick, I leave them alone and let their immune systems deal with it. I’ve had three 16-year-old cats fast up to 8 days because of upper respiratory (brought on by a stressful move and a month of canned food) and recover without any veterinary interference. My three-year-olds have never been sick, except for Sophie who had distemper as a kitten and recovered (with vet treatment) after three days. Generally, I avoid… Read more »
Tyler
5 years 9 months ago

I like to take my dog out for long walks with the occasional sprint in the park. Then I reward him with some raw meaty bones. He loves his offal too!

sarah
sarah
3 years 6 months ago
Love this website for good tips. I was a bit surprised the Paleo primal rules weren’t emphasized for pet diet in the same way it is recommended for humans on this site. What I do for my 2cats: * Feed them twice a day raw meat (chicken, turkey, rabbit)w/ supplements made for pets (such as Natures variety Instinct) (grain-free and 95% meat) * Every other day or so I feed them some whole animals (defrosted lab mice)outside or in the garage with an open door (wearing a harness) * Once or twice a week I give them some grain-free canned… Read more »
sarah
sarah
3 years 6 months ago

The bottom of the previous comment was cropped, here is the full thing:
* I spend some time daily petting them and/or brushing them and/or doing some interactive play with them and/or running around the house together with them. I also sweet talk to them and that seems to help make them better behaved kitties. In return they jump on my lap or give me the squinty eyes which is supposed to mean “IAs a result, thank God, my cats are both healthy, active, playful, well-behaved, free of chronic conditions and of a healthy weight unlike many American pets.

sarah
sarah
3 years 6 months ago
The bottom of the previous comment was cropped, here is the full thing: * I spend some time daily petting them and/or brushing them and/or doing some interactive play with them and/or running around the house together with them. I also sweet talk to them and that seems to help make them better behaved kitties. In return they jump on my lap or give me the squinty eyes which is supposed to mean “I love U” in cat language. * I am pretty strict when it comes to setting boundaries, they can only scratch certain things, they cannot eat human… Read more »
pdillon
pdillon
3 years 4 months ago
Our 13 year-old cat’s condition definitely went from good to poor when we switched from fresh meat and dry food to canned and dry food for a few months last year. Switching back from canned to fresh food this year his fur and energy improved very quickly. His favourite is kangaroo steak – well, he is an Aussie and it’s good to eat locally sourced produce! He can be fussy – fresh liver and kidneys get rejected. I will try lamb heart. I heard table scraps can be a good way to give a more varied diet, and I often… Read more »
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