Updated: Jun 16
Here at RDBK, we talk a lot about the importance of a nutritious diet and its impact on the health and wellness of our dogs and cats. Feeding a balanced fresh food diet certainly helps to keep our pets in the best shape they can be but there are other aspects of our pets’ lives that can significantly impact quality of life. Just like humans, the amount of daily exercise they receive and the levels of exposure to certain environmental factors like harmful pollutants in air, water, and food, also contribute to our pets overall health. Stress in particular can wreak just as much, if not more havoc on health as a bad diet does. Stress can be devastating to immune function, brain function and the endocrine system causing serious disease in the process. And that’s only a tiny piece of the bigger picture. If we take an honest look at the lifestyles of our pets today, they don’t have much of a say when it comes to how they live their lives in our domestic world. This, in itself, is an essential marker in identifying the key ways to give your pet the happiest, healthiest life possible with the added benefit of increasing your own quality of life too!
Without getting too technical, let’s take a look at the best places to start to ensure your pet is healthy, happy and relatively stress-free:
How To Keep Your Pet Happy, Healthy and Stress Free
Ever eat too many leftovers? Imagine eating the same leftovers every day for your ENTIRE LIFE. Pretty soon, it would take all the joy out of eating and might even make eating a little stressful. It also wouldn’t be very good for your health since eating a variety of fresh foods is how we are able to meet and exceed all of our nutritional requirements in order to thrive. Do your pet a favor and make meals with these requirements in mind:
1 part healthy, fresh foods
1 part deliciousness (pick foods your pet loves to eat)
1 part fun and interesting – try feeding foods that are fun such as bones or using a Kong, puzzle toy or slow-feeder to change it up and offer some enrichment to meal times
Outside air is not the same as inside air! It’s important to spend time outdoors with your pet. For instance, exploring the woods where the trees are making fresh oxygen. You could also take your pup to climb a mountain, swim at the beach, or run in an open field. If you have an indoor cat, teach him how to wear a harness and leash and take them out exploring in the yard. If you start them young, cats can even learn to travel well in the car and go for walks and even camping adventures! A great first step to exploring with your cat could even be as simple as purchasing a cat backpack.
3. Off-Leash Exercise
Freedom! Space is a valuable thing to a dog. Too much confinement can lead to stress. Let your pooch romp and set his own pace on walks whenever you can. Movement increases cardiovascular health, releases happy endorphins in the brain, and increases immune health. It also gives your dog the chance to be free from confinement and wander about, which is the true nature of the dog.
4.Letting the Dog Decide.
There are so many awesome pet training resources out there today, including methods like clicker training. Training your pet with the premise that he can decide to make a good choice not only makes the training more reliable for you but also gives your pet WAY more confidence in his everyday life. That’s why positive training methods can be life-changing and a lot more fun for both you and your dog! Check outKaren Pryor andZen Dog for some awesome tips on positive training techniques. If you haven’t heard of Zendog, it is a local (BC) training company that has amazing trainers on staff who will work with you and your dog on reaching specified goals together! Here are some fun exercise based tricks from McCann Dog Training that you can do at home:
5.Extracurricular Activities and Enrichment.
This is such a huge category and the sky's the limit! Whatever breed of dog you have, there is a sport or activity that would suit him. There are lots of great activities you can do with your cat too! Activities for dogs include agility, nose work, tracking, protection work, swimming, dock diving, herding and more. Cats can also learn to do the same tricks as dogs such as sit, lie down, fetch, target (even agility!), and you can create all kinds of fun lures for them to chase! Have you considered boxes for your kitty? This seemingly mundane object is the cheapest and very amusing cat toy that will easily keep your pet entertained. Cut holes in a box and put it on the floor and enjoy hours of hilariousness with your cat!
6.Being Just Plain Silly.
Don’t be so serious! Get on the floor and just be goofy with your fur kids. Make funny sounds, postures like play bowing, and just be generally ridiculous. Playing is fun for both of you, greatly decreases stress, and strengthens the bond between you and your pet. It is not only good for them, it’s important for us to remember to laugh once in a while too!
7. Just Lazing About.
Couch-potatoing with your pet is vital. This includes cuddles! Physical contact, petting and snuggling with your pet is proven to reduce stress in humans and we feel it is reciprocal. Watch a movie and just feel the love. Or take a nap together and catch up on some sleep, another important aspect of health and wellness.
Just like humans, pets like a sense of routine. Because they can’t talk and converse with us, it’s important that they have a sense of what to expect in their daily lives, including that they will get to eat food, have a good night’s sleep, be comfortable and safe, and to get some quality time with their owner. Too rigid a routine is boring but just enough of a routine will ensure that your pet doesn’t feel insecure about the basic necessities of life.
Try Implementing Each Tip For A Happy, Healthy and Stress Free Pet
Not only are these important aspects of creating a happy pet but they are also important for us as humans as well. The beauty of being a pet parent is that when we take care of them well, they actually end up taking care of ourselves as well