The term ‘Wellness’ is inescapable these days. You can’t throw a stick without hitting a dozen attractive young ‘wellness bloggers’ claiming that avocado will sort out all your problems, and coconut oil will transform your life. We are constantly looking for ways to improve our physical and mental health. Ultimately, the key to a healthy and happy life is much simpler than we think. All doctors and nutritionists will agree that good nutrition, exercise and reducing stress are the pillars of wellness. People are now eager to extend ‘wellness’ to their pets and are actively looking for ways to improve their beloved animals physical and mental wellbeing. So much so veterinary schools have started hiring wellness veterinarians. Here are a few simple things you can do to improve your pet’s health.
Exercise is important for all pets, but dogs especially so. Unlike cats who are naturally independent and happy to wander around on their own devices, dogs require more regimented exercise and regular walks. For many dog owners who work long hours and/or live in a city, access to suitable spaces to walk your dog can be limited. Even if you can’t make it out for a long walk, a quick trip around the block or 15 minutes playing fetch indoors can make a world of difference to your dog’s physical and mental health. Walking your dog boosts their circulation, which in turn promotes healthy digestion and mental stimulation. Puppies and low-energy dogs only require a few short bursts of play and activity throughout the day, of about 5-10 minutes.
For those living in cities or with busy work schedules, consider hiring a dog walker to take your pet out for a long walk on the days you can’t make the time. Also, if you own a larger dog or are likely to run into other dogs on your walking route, be sure to use a muzzle on your pet for both their safety and the safety of other pets. If you are unsure about how much exercise your dog should be getting, consult your vet about your dog’s exercise needs depending on its size, age, and breed.
As well as regular exercise, good nutrition is essential for your dog’s wellbeing, but finding out what kind of nutrition your dog needs is just as important. There are many different types of food – wet or dry, meat or vegetarian, and different concentrations of certain nutrients.
You may be tempted to feed your dog scraps and leftovers, which is fine in moderation – however be careful not to feed them anything that may harm their digestive system. Gastro-intestinal issues face many species, and because of their more delicate digestive systems certain foods that are perfectly safe for humans are poisonous for dogs. Never give your dog chocolate, garlic, onions, or large amounts of dairy – they lack the enzyme humans have to break down milk sugars. Dogs are also more sensitive to salty foods like bacon, as they do not process sodium as well as humans do. A diet heavy in sodium can lead to dehydration and in extreme cases, sodium ion poisoning which causes seizures. Consult your vet about your dog’s nutritional needs, and they will guide you to the right food choices for your pet.
When you’re out walking with your dog, it can be tempting to cut the walk short after a long day’s work, but walks are vital for your pet’s mental wellbeing. Dog’s benefit greatly from diverse walks because they get to experience new sights, smells, sounds and textures – which promotes their mental wellbeing and sensory development. Once or twice a week, make the time to take them for a walk somewhere they can explore, sniff around and discover new smells and textures. The beach is an excellent place for this, especially if your dog loves swimming. Always be sure to keep an eye on your pet so that they don’t accidentally ingest anything harmful when they’re playing, and especially when they’re swimming.
Another way to keep your dog mentally stimulated is through their toys. Buy toys you can hide their food inside, like rubber balls with hidden food compartments or puzzle treat dispensers. Your dog will work to learn how to crack the code, so they are rewarded with their favorite snack.
Hydration is just as important for dogs as it is for humans, if not more. Because of their thick coats, it takes longer for them to cool down after exercise or play. Keeping your dog hydrated is the best way to keep them cool – especially in hot weather. Dogs are made up of about 80% water, and dehydration can lead to a host of issues – including nausea, vomiting, and lethargy. Older dogs are particularly susceptible to dehydration, as are dogs that are pregnant and/or nursing.
Always be sure to refresh your dog’s water regularly and thoroughly clean their bowl daily, as bacteria thrives in stagnant water. If you’re out socializing with your pet, bring extra water with you, especially if it’s a hot day. Most bars and restaurants are more than happy to provide a bowl of water for your furry friend if you’re drinking/dining outside.
Dogs can be highly sensitive to a variety of stressors, both internal and external. Pet owners will all know that loud noises like fireworks and large crowds are particularly stressful for dogs, making holiday seasons like fourth of July and New Year’s Eve difficult. Dogs can also experience separation anxiety when separated from their owners for considerable periods of time (even the 8 or so hours you’re at work). Shelter dogs are particularly vulnerable to anxiety, as they may have experienced abuse or neglect, coupled with a jarring change in their environment. As well as lots of love and attention, there are a few things you can do to improve your dog’s stress levels.
Regular exercise is just as important for your pet’s mental health as it is for our own mental health, so be sure to keep your dog active and engaged. CBD oil has been proven to be highly effective at treating stress and anxiety disorders in humans, and it works just as well for dogs, in the appropriate doses. CBD oil is perfectly healthy for pets to ingest as it is not psychoactive like THC, which dogs are highly sensitive to because they have more receptors in their brains than humans. CBD oil benefits your best friend working as an effective anti-inflammatory, and aids with muscle and joint pain in both animals and humans. You can treat your animal with CBD products like hemp rope and CBD infused dog treats.