As we end the second week of the new year, many of us are steadily working towards our New Year’s resolutions. The goal for most people is improvement of health in some form. What if we extended that goal to include our pets? Here are three easy ways to give your pet’s health a boost this year.
Keep the Bowl Clean
An easy way to improve your pet’s health is to keep their dishes fresh and clean. When your pet eats or drinks, they leave a substance called biofilm behind. Biofilm is that slimy stuff you feel when washing their dishes. Most often, it is clear and odorless to humans. In some cases, a pinkish color or residue can be seen in your pet’s dish. This is biofilm containing the bacteria Serratia marcescens. In fact, biofilm can contain more than 16 strains of unhealthy, illness-causing bacteria. For example, Ecoli, Salmonella, Staphylococcus, to name a few.
When ingested, these bacteria can wreak havoc in your pet’s body, causing health issues like inflammation, dental plaque, chronic kidney disease, urinary tract infections and cardiovascular complications.
It is also helpful to choose food and water dishes that are easier to keep clean. Avoid porous materials like plastic and non-coated ceramics. Clear glass, like Pyrex, stainless steel and glazed ceramic are all great options. If you choose stainless steel, be sure not to use anything abrasive when cleaning, this can cause scratches and grooves where bacteria can grow.
I suggest washing your pet’s dishes daily. We humans don’t reuse our dirty dishes; why should our pets?
Healthy Skin and Coat
One of the most common concerns I hear from our customers is that their dog or cat is suffering from dry, flaky, itchy skin. A simple solution for this is to add fish oil to your pet’s current diet. Fish oil contains EPA and DHA, known as omega-3 fatty acids and contains anti-inflammatory properties. It’s the anti-inflammatory properties that work on reducing itchy, dry skin. The omega-3 fatty acids give your pet’s coat a shiny luster.
In addition to supporting healthy skin and coat, fish oil supports a healthy immune system, healthy kidney function, protects the heart, and reduces overall inflammation. Fish oil also helps to alleviate and pass hairballs, an added bonus for our feline friends.
If you find the smell of fish oil a bit too offensive, try using coconut oil as an alternative. Coconut oil shares many of the same benefits as fish oil. If you’re going to use coconut oil, it’s best to use high quality, organic, cold-pressed and sustainably sourced.
Maintaining Healthy Weight
Many of today’s weight management diets contain a high carbohydrate load. Those unusable carbs break down as sugar in your pet’s body, making it harder to lose or maintain a healthy weight. The same is true for any kibble. It is strongly believed that a diet high in protein and healthy fats help achieve optimal weight in your pet, except for dogs or cats that suffer from certain medical conditions like pancreatitis.
The easiest way to replace starchy dry food is to use freeze-dried or air-dried foods. These diets are rich in fresh meat and organs and do not contain grains, potatoes or legumes. This type of diet promotes a healthy weight, and supports muscle growth, maintains healthy joints, reduces inflammation, and cleaner teeth.
Not ready to replace your kibble? No problem- simply cut the amount of kibble you’re feeding in half and mix in freeze-dried or air-dried food. Any amount of these healthy foods will be beneficial to your pet’s diet.
When reducing the amount of food you’re feeding is necessary, adding water or bone broth to your pet’s food is a great way to trick them into feeling fuller and adds needed hydration. Please note when using bone broth for your pet, I suggest using a dog/cat specific variety. Conventional bone broth often contains high sodium, spices and other ingredients not suitable for pets.
These tips are great for any pet, whether they need to lose weight, maintain current weight, or just need a healthy boost.
If you would like to learn more about changing your pet’s diet or adding to their current diet, come into the Filling Station for a free consultation. We’re here to help.
– Shannon Ladouceur, The Filling Station Pet Supplies