You may have heard about the growing trend, particularly in America, of emotional support pets. Now, the pessimist might consider this to be an inventive way to sneak your beloved pet into your favourite bar, hotel, or restaurant but for many people that suffer with mental health problems including social anxiety and depression the idea of receiving the unconditional love of a pet is of great comfort.
Anyone that grew up with a dog can relate to the level of unconditional love and affection that is on call all the time. The fact they can be so sensitive and connected to our emotions would make sense that pets such as dogs and cats can provide emotional support, but surely, when it comes to nervous flyers taking their emotional support hedgehogs onboard has the world not just gone a bit silly?
That said, it’s important to recognise the healing power of pets, as they do have a positive impact on our emotional and physical health. The benefits of petting a cat or dog, for instance, can lead huge improvements in your own wellbeing; as engaging in this tactile interaction has been shown to reduce blood pressure, lower stress, improve depression and elevate mood in both pet and owner.
Pets can, however, be a large responsibility and unless you stay on top of looking after them pet ownership can feel more of a burden than anything else. Now that we’ve considered the healing power of pets let’s explore five simple ways to take care of your pet (mostly geared toward dog and cat owners rather than emotional support hedgehogs).
Just like humans, it’s vitally important your pets get the exercise they need. Exercise is great for their physical and emotional health plus it’ll boost your own mood too. That said, you don’t tend to find many people taking their cat for a walk in the local park – which is where toys come in. Laser pointers can be a particularly good tool for this.
- DIET & NUTRITION
Cats have specific nutritional requirements as they are “obligate carnivores” meaning they need animal proteins to stay healthy, whilst dogs are “scavenging carnivores” meaning they are primarily meat eaters but can survive on other sources of food if necessary. Equally important to food is hydration so ensuring an adequate and reliable supply of clean drinking water is absolutely essential to your pets health. This is particularly relevant in the hot summer months (and in central heated houses during the winter).
- FLEA TREATMENT
At some point, your pet will likely develop a problem with fleas. The most obvious sign your pet has fleas is that they are itching a lot. If you find ‘flea dirt’ then you need to do two things. (1) Treat your pet, and (2) Treat your home. It’s important to note that around 95% of fleas and flea eggs are likely to now be in your home rather than on your pet.
It’s wise to consult your vet on which flea treatment is most effective for your pet, as it is somewhat dependent on medical history but a wise option is Revolution Parasite Prevention & Control from PetBucket. Whilst flea treatment is highly effective in killing the fleas and eggs on your pet, the challenge is that if your pet is then in an environment where the fleas are still at large re-infestation will occur. Here is a good resource on the steps to take to rid your home from fleas.