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The Best Foods to Keep Your Beloved Pets at a Healthy Weight to Help Them Live a Longer Life

The recent trend toward weight gain and obesity hasn't been limited to humans and places pet family members equally at risk. But weight control is crucial to well-being and quality of life, so finding ways to help your pet maintain a proper body weight becomes crucial for health as well as lifestyle reasons.  When it comes to pets, like people, there isn’t an ideal weight that is appropriately clear across the board. Your cat or dog’s breed, size, and age will all enter a formula that will determine the correct weight for individual pets. To begin, regular check-ups with your veterinarian will aid in determining appropriate body weight and identifying early signs of weight-related issues.  How Will I Know if My Pet Is a Healthy Weight? If your cat or dog is a healthy weight, the ribs and spine can be felt but not seen. Visible spine and ribs indicate that your pet is underweight. Because pet weights vary, your vet will use a “Cat Body Condition Score” to evaluate a pet’s muscle mass and weight which is similar to the Body Mass Index used for people. It will determine if a pet is too thin or too fat.  Pet parents can use a “Hand Test” to get a pet’s weight. Feel your pet’s ribs located behind the front legs.  Ribs feel like the back of a hand, indicating an average weight. Ribs with a cushion similar to the palm of a hand point to your pet being overweight.  Photo by Rick T.T. on Unsplash Why Your Pet Needs to Be a Healthy Weight Apart from contributing to a better quality of life, there are serious health issues related to being overweight. These illnesses or medical conditions can compromise comfort and quality of life easily and rapidly. The most common weight-related issues include:  Arthritis Cancer Cardiac disease Diabetes Kidney Disease Pancreatitis  Food’s Role in Maintaining Healthy Weight If a pet is underweight or overweight, your veterinarian will likely recommend that a pet be fed weight loss, weight management, or high-calorie food to achieve a more appropriate calorie intake and, consequently, a healthier weight. Commercial pet foods will contain variations in formulas to guarantee essential nutrients but at the same time aid in increasing or decreasing weight.  It’s All About the Food The bottom line is that your pet’s diet determines if a pooch or kitty packs on the pounds or perhaps is not eating sufficiently to keep its weight on. While weight gain is generally associated with an intake of too many calories and too little exercise, pets may suffer weight loss from:  Age Arthritis may cause a pet not to walk even to the food dish. Cancer Dental issues like toothaches or periodontal disease can dissuade a pet from eating. Diabetes may cause a decrease in eating and an increase in thirst. Diseases Parasites like worms can cause weight loss. Medication may provoke an appetite change. Insufficient food or insufficient food intake due to boredom or dislike of taste or texture can contribute to weight loss.  And weight loss can be just as devastating to a pet’s general health as obesity. Foods for a Healthy Weight: What kinds of Pet Foods Are Available? Dry Pet Foods Dry pet food should offer a balance of fiber, protein, and fat formulated for weight maintenance, weight gain, or weight loss. Dry food lacks moisture, but a crunchy texture can be appealing. Dry foods also tend to be non-odorous, so your home won’t smell.  Wet Pet Foods This is a favorite food type among pets, often taking the form of chunky stew, ground meat, pate, or bite-sized pieces drenched in gravy. It contains much more moisture aiding hydration.  What to Search for in Pet Food Protein, Fiber, and Carbohydrates Protein and proper carbohydrate content assist in weight management while offering essential nutrients. Fiber content is necessary for digestion. Quality Ingredients High-quality ingredients are essential in weight management, so take the time to learn what’s inside your pet’s food. Fillers often used in dry kibble may be empty calories that offer no specific benefits.  Allergens Pet foods should not contain ingredients that your pet is allergic to. Food allergies can cause general discomfort. Nutrients and Vitamins Vitamins can aid in overall health. Vitamins A, C, and E are known to shore up the immune system and improve muscle tone.  Foods to Keep Your Pet a Healthy Weight: Dog Foods Dog Food for Weight Management Timber Wolf Organics Black Forest Legends Dog Food Principal Ingredients: Venison Meal, Salmon Meal, Whitefish Meal, Lentils, Lamb Timber Wolf Organics has developed a selection of carnivore-specific foods that are fully balanced and not only ideal for weight management but also for specific challenges faced by pups with allergies and food intolerances.  Dog Foods for Gaining Weight Nature’s Logic Canine Beef Feast Canned Dog Food Principal Ingredients: Beef, Beef Broth, Sardines, Porcine Plasma, Herring oil Nutrient-dense and highly palatable, this food contains lots of meat protein and a dose of vegetables and fruits to guarantee essential nutrients. Each can has 549 calories.  Dog Foods for Losing Weight Blue Buffalo Life Protection Healthy Weight Dry Dog Food Formula Principal Ingredients: Chicken Meal, Deboned Chicken, Brown rice, Pea Fiber, Barley This is a low-fat formula with added calcium and potassium. Filled with I-carnitine to develop lean muscles, it features fewer fat calories. Omega-3 fatty acids work on joint strength and mobility to assist in increased exercise and physical activity.  Photo by Lina Angelov on Unsplash Foods to Keep Your Pet a Healthy Weight: Cat Foods Cat Food for Weight Management Timberwolf Organics Ocean Blue Legends Principal Ingredients: Salmon, Salmon Meal, Herring Meal, Pea Protein, Canola Oil Featuring the very best of the deep blue sea, this particular cat food contains lots of omega-3 fatty acids to promote brain, heart, and skin health while keeping your kitty at a healthy weight. It’s also perfect for cats with allergies to land-based meats. Great flavor and balanced nutrition in the same food. Cat Foods for Gaining Weight Royal Canin Recovery RS Canned Diet Principal Ingredients: Water, Chicken, Chicken Liver, Gelatin, Natural Flavors A specially formulated soft pate cat food designed for essential nutrition and weight gain. It’s a great solution for finicky cats or those suffering from poor appetite.  It requires a veterinary prescription and tends to be more costly.  Cat Foods for Losing Weight Hill’s Science Adult Cat Perfect Weight Principal Ingredients: Chicken, Brewer’s Rice, Corn Gluten Meal, Wheat Gluten, Chicken Meal A dry kibble blended to encourage weight loss but maintain muscle mass. The manufacturer claims that 70% of cats using this kibble lose weight in ten weeks. It does contain grain in case your kitty has allergies—very low calorie.  READ MORE ABOUT CAT OBESITY PREVENTION The Bottom Line Simple actions that will assist your beloved pet in achieving its appropriate weight include:  Eating healthy pet-appropriate foods Veterinary visits at regular intervals Portion Control Intelligent treats and treating No Feeding from the table and no people food Lots of exercise and physical activities   
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Potentially Dangerous Household Chemicals for Your Pets

Most people commit a certain amount of time and money to clean their houses on a regular basis. This is particularly true of pet owners, especially those that have pets who shed a lot. Unfortunately, many of the household cleaning products are not necessarily safe for our pets, whether cats, dogs, or even our pet birds or small animals. This is why it’s essential for pet owners to pet-proof their homes properly.  Dogs and some cats will eat food and crumbs that fall on the floor. All pets, including birds, breathe the air inside our homes. Plus, most pets clean themselves, lick their paws, etc and can potentially ingest harmful chemicals that way too. Consequently, our pets are at risk of ingesting harmful chemicals that are potentially dangerous to their health regardless of whether they eat something or breathe in fumes.   There are many products and product types that are potentially dangerous to our furry and winged family members and should be eliminated and substituted with natural alternatives if possible. Those that you are not able to stop using should be appropriately stored. You also need to recognize symptoms and signs that your pet has ingested a toxin.  Potentially Dangerous Household Products Cleaning products and disinfectants contain many harmful chemicals even when indicated as green or natural. Exposure to cleaning products that contain toxic chemicals can result in a range of symptoms in cats, including gastrointestinal, respiratory, and skin irritations with varying degrees of damage from red, flaky skin to an internal hemorrhage.  READ >>> Easy Ways to Cleanup After Your Cats Highly toxic chemicals are dangerous to your pets and are pretty standard in cleaning products, from oven and fireplace cleaners to wood and glass cleaners. Ingredients often include: ●        Ammonia Ammonia may appear in the ingredient list of drain cleaners, floor waxes, oven cleaners, and even window cleaners because it is an excellent sanitation agent. It can cause damage to the eyes and skin if touched, to the lungs if inhaled, and to the digestive tract if ingested. Causes damage to eyes, lungs, skin, and stomach.  ●        Cationic surfactants Found in dryer sheets and fabric softeners, chemicals such as benzalkonium chloride or cetrimonium bromide are extremely poisonous to pets. Even if only through skin contact, your pooch or kitty may cause burns or irritation. Ingestion causes worse with potential damage to the lungs, kidneys, and the nervous system. Causes damage to the lungs, nervous system, and kidneys. It can cause ulcers and depression.  ●        Chlorine This is the principal ingredient contained in bleach and is likewise found in detergents from dishwasher detergents to laundry products and bathroom cleaning products like toilet bowl cleaners and general all-purpose cleaning materials.  ●        Formaldehyde This chemical is often employed in cleaners because it is antibacterial. Although considered carcinogenic for humans, it may still be lurking in the ingredient list under names such as formic aldehyde, formalin, methanol, methyl aldehyde, glycol, or oxide. Considered a carcinogen.  ●        Glycol Ethers These chemicals are used against grease and may even be found in supposedly green cleaners. Look for 2-Butoxyethanol, 2-Ethoxyethanol, or 2-Methoxyethanol in the ingredient list, especially for products that are great at eliminating grease. Linked to cancer, birth defects, and delayed development.  ●        Phthalates Included in household cleaning products for fragrance purposes, the most recognizable is BPA. Linked to weight gain, cancer, developmental delay, cancers, and reproductive problems.  Other types of products often found in homes that are equally toxic to pets include: ●        Antifreeze (Ethylene Glycol) Antifreeze is highly poisonous when ingested, even if in a microscopic quantity. It is sweet-tasting and odorless. If you keep antifreeze in your garage, store it so that it is inaccessible to pets. If you think your pet has ingested even a tiny amount, take your pet to your vet immediately. Antifreeze ingestion can cause kidney failure and be lethal.  ●        Fertilizer and Herbicides Fertilizers and herbicides are generally in the form of granules or liquids. Chemical-based products need to be used with caution, and pets should be kept indoors to avoid hazards.  Nowadays, there are various organic options available that will not place your pet in harm’s way. Watch for symptoms such as vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, or seizures.  ●        Gasoline and kerosene Gas and kerosene are often kept at homes for cars, motorized power tools and equipment, and even grills. They must be stored so that your pet does not have any contact of any kind, whether through skin contact, ingestion, or inhalation. Watch for symptoms such as drooling, abdominal pain, lesions, mouth ulcers, and collapse.  ●        Heavy Metals Heavy metals such as lead or zinc are poisonous. This means that even a coin swallowed can create a problem.  ●        Ice Melting Products Even if you do not personally use this type of product around your home, know that these are used on streets and sidewalks where you may take your dog for a walk. They commonly contain chemicals and compounds such as calcium salts, potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, sodium chloride, and urea. Because some pets like to play in the snow, your pet may get these substances on their paws and then ingest them during licking. Watch for diarrhea, vomiting, hyperthermia, labored breathing, and irregular heartbeat.  ●        Paints Paints used in home improvement projects, whether latex, oil-based, water-based, or unleaded, will have some toxicity for pets. Areas of your home that have been freshly painted should not be accessible to pets and need to be well-ventilated. Paint products need to be stored out of reach. This also includes paint thinners and turpentine. Watch for symptoms such as nausea, stomach upset, respiratory difficulty, vomiting, and lack of coordination.  ●        Pest Control products While pest control products, more often than not, are used in spaces not directly inhibited by family members, such as an attic, a basement, or perhaps in cupboards, a curious pet may investigate if these spaces are accessible in some manner. Pest control products such as mothballs, insecticides, and rodenticides (rat baits) are very dangerous to pets. Even something like slug bait can be very poisonous, so you also need to be careful where you use these products indoor or outdoor.  Watch for symptoms such as fever, diarrhea, vomiting, pale gums, lethargy, seizures, and difficulty breathing.  The Importance of Using Natural Cleaners Using natural cleaners in your home is a healthier choice for you and your pets. Inhaling toxic fumes can lead to respiratory irritations and infections or long-term conditions such as asthma. Exposure to chemicals also can affect the skin resulting in allergic reactions, eczema, or irritations.  By selecting a natural cleaning product, you can reduce these risks and safety concerns and contribute to the well-being of the environment. Green cleaning products are formulated to be non-toxic and non-corrosive. Chemical products, by contrast, are often highly corrosive.  A natural product formula will avoid dyes, formaldehyde, sulfates, or bleach. More common ingredients in natural cleaning products include vinegar, natural fragrances, plant-based surfactants, and oils, and the amount of each ingredient will usually be specified.  Natural Pet Products Some of the same considerations are valid for the products specifically designed for pets. This includes toys, pet foods, grooming products and accessories, and even cat litter.  Using a natural litter without harmful chemicals or added scents like okocat is better for your cat, your family and your home. Think about your cat digging in the litter box and breathing in any harmful chemicals or licking it from their paws. Learn more
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6 Ways Your Dog Is Telling You They’re Happy

Isn’t it unfortunate that you can’t just ask your dog if he’s happy? You won’t understand his barks, but that doesn’t mean you have no way of knowing how your pup feels. Over time, you will likely get used to his body language.In the meantime, familiarize yourself with some of the most common signs that your dog is happy. This knowledge may save you a call to the vet when you’re unsure of your dog’s behavior. 1. High, Wagging Tail Your dog’s tail is among the most important indicators of how he feels. Even people who are unfamiliar with canine body language know that a wagging tail indicates happiness. Take this a step further and know that when your dog’s tail is wagging and high, he is living his best life. 2. Overall Relaxed Body Take a look at your dog’s posture and overall body language. If he seems relaxed, then he’s likely incredibly happy. Pay particular attention to his posture and look out for stiffness or stress. If he seems calm, that’s a sign that he’s feeling happy. When checking your dog’s body, start with his shoulders. They should be nice and loose. Then, look at his eyes. They should look soft and not necessarily have a fixed gaze. Check out his ears. Relaxed ears will not be flattened against your dog’s head or tense. Remember that if his ears are pricked upright, this means he is still alert. That doesn’t mean he’s happy or sad; it’s just that he’s paying close attention to his surroundings. Pay attention to his entire body. There are two good indicators of happiness here. The first is being incredibly wiggly, with those wiggles being an extension of his wagging tail. The other is if he just seems incredibly “flopped out” and relaxed. 3. Leaning Into You Dogs are incredibly social and love their humans. This is especially true when they are happy. Essentially, your pup wants to share his happiness with you. So, if your dog comes over for attention, that can indicate he’s happy. To tell whether that’s the case or he wants something, look for the other signs on this list as well. If your dog leans into your hand as you pet them or leans against another part of your body, that’s almost a guarantee that he’s happy. Of course, this also extends to your dog cuddling with you. If he frequently snuggles next to you when you let him, he trusts you and is happy to be spending time with you. 4. Playfulness Playfulness can depend on your dog’s age as well as his breed, but it is very common for happier dogs to be more playful. When your dog is happy, he will want to run around and let some of his energy loose. If your dog is giving you play bows or asking you to play in another way, he’s probably happy. An extension of this can also be if your dog gets excited when you take out the leash or indicate you are going for a walk together. This means that they have a positive experience walking with you and are happy. 5. Not Being Destructive You can also tell a lot about whether your dog is happy by looking at his behavior, specifically how destructive he is. If a dog is destructive, it can be a sign of stress or anxiety. That being said, you should remember that some slightly destructive behavior is natural for puppies, as they are teething and still learning the rules. This sign of canine happiness extends past not being destructive. If they are generally well-behaved, they are likely happy. A bored, stressed, or anxious dog is unlikely to be on his best behavior, but a happy one will be. 6. Healthy Appetite How your dog feels about mealtimes is another indicator of his happiness levels. This doesn’t mean that he has to be greedy or overly excited about food. It simply means that he should be willing to eat. More importantly, you will want to have a baseline for comparison when looking at your dog’s appetite to see if he’s happy. If his reaction to food suddenly changes, he may be unhappy. Make sure you have a good understanding of healthy pet food ingredients and are feeding your porch a balanced, healthy diet. Bonus: Other Signs of Happiness In addition to all of the above, the following are some other indications that your dog is happy: Dancing or hopping The “zoomies” Lolling tongue Happy, high-pitched, short barks Belly up in submissive posture Excited to see you Head tilt when they look at you Good sleeping habits Friendliness and socialness (including with other dogs) The Opposite: Signs Your Dog Is Not Happy While you want to be on the lookout for all of the above signs that your dog is happy, you should also be aware of indications that he is not in a positive mood. This is crucial because if your dog isn’t happy, this may indicate that there is something wrong. If he seems constantly down, you should take him to the vet to make sure he’s healthy. You don’t want anything to stand in the way of your pet’s happiness, so consider pet insurance to help with finances at the vet. With that in mind, the following are some signs that your dog is not happy: Low or tucked tail Turning away from you Hiding Tense body position Ears sitting back Appeasement behavior (such as stiff submissive poses or licking their lips) Conclusion While your dog can’t speak to tell you when he’s happy or unhappy, he gives you plenty of cues to let you know how he feels. From a wagging tail to a healthy appetite, there are plenty of signs to look out for. If your dog doesn’t seem happy, take him to the vet to make sure nothing is wrong. Most importantly always give your dog lots of love!
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