In the UK, 46 percent of households have pets. And why not? Pets are a wonderful addition to any family. They’re good for our hearts, mental health, and social lives. They help teach children empathy and responsibility. And let’s be honest, few things are better after a long day at work or school than coming home to their unconditional love.
But all that unconditional love can come at a cost. Our pets can sometimes cause us to become ill, and if we aren’t careful, we can negatively affect their health as well. Here are a few health tips for pet owners on how to keep your two-legged and four-legged family members healthy and well.
Health Tips For Pet Owners
1. Minimize pet allergens
If you’re like my husband, you love your pet despite your pet allergy. He is allergic to dogs but has said he can’t imagine not having one. So, as a result of his allergy, we take many precautions to minimize allergens in our home. One way we do this is by choosing breeds that produce less dander and aren’t slobbery. As EverydayHealth.com notes, it’s the dander and saliva that are the problems for allergy sufferers, not necessarily your dog’s fur. And as this article recommends, we clean frequently—our home and our dog! Cleaning floors and wiping down walls helps remove pet dander from the air and bathing our dog regularly helps keep his dander down.
2. Flea Prevention
Protect your pet from fleas Of course, it’s good for the whole family when these tiny pests are kept out of the home, but your pet will be especially appreciative when you take care to protect them from fleas. If you find fleas on your pet, take immediate steps to get rid of them. This article on ridding your pet of fleas suggests a couple of natural options for doing so. For example, lavender essential oil is a “natural flea killer” and there are, of course, other shampoos and topical products that can be used. However, it explains that if an infestation is really bad, you should call in professionals to eliminate fleas from your home as soon as possible.
Know how to handle bites. Even kind and gentle dogs might try to bite humans if they’re frightened or if their play becomes overly aggressive. And of course, puppies are especially bad about nipping. If you are bitten, Cesarsway.com provides advice on how to handle superficial and puncture wounds and explains what to do from a behavioral standpoint. For example, if your dog suddenly tries to bite you, consider what circumstances led up to the situation—did you surprise the dog, or get too close to its food bowl? The article also suggests bringing the incident up with your veterinarian as it could indicate your dog has an injury or is in some kind of physical pain.
Of course, one of a pet owner’s worst nightmares is that their dog will be bitten by another dog. This article provides guidance on how to get your dog the care they need if they’re ever bitten. For example, it notes that because dog bite wounds and other superficial injuries that might result from a dog fight can be difficult to see, it’s always best to take your pet to a veterinarian.
Know that pets mourn, too.This is something that I honestly hadn’t considered until just recently. My grandmom passed away not too long ago. She had a dachshund named “Sam” and she loved him dearly. When she passed, my mom brought Sam to her house. Usually a happy and friendly dog, at my mom’s house, Sam didn’t want to do much of anything. It was difficult to get him to eat and he didn’t want to play. He would just lie near the door as if he was waiting for my grandmom to come pick him up.
As this guide on pet bereavement notes, pets mourn the loss of their owners or other family pets just like we humans do, and it’s clear to me now that that is what Sam was going through. If you’re dealing with a grieving pet, you can help them through it by showing them love, using kind words, and giving them plenty of attention.
Our pets are important members of the family. Maintaining their health is important, but it’s just as important to make sure all two-legged family members are in good health as well. When you follow these tips, you can take steps to protect everyone from injury and illness.
Image via Flickr by Fort George G. Meade Public Affairs Office