Are you killing your pet with kindness? How to “spring forward”with your best friend?

I met a neighbour and his dog the other day, as our pooch-walking routes traversed. Both of our dogs are of a similar age, though different breeds, but that is where the similarities end. As my own health has  recently improved through taking care with what I eat, so that of my pets has come under scrutiny. Although somewhat middle-aged at eight-years-old, my little Cairn “terrierist” still has bundles of energy and a trim (if scruffy) image, but my neighbour’s younger dog already boasts “middle age spread”, a worry for anyone hoping for longevity. Now is the time for action!

This weekend British clocks “spring forward” an hour, summer is around the corner and long walks with the dog will become more appealing. Cats will feel the urge to leave the fireside and disappear into the undergrowth in search of a gift for our mat. Our own diet may become lighter and healthier, but please don’t neglect the dish of your furry friend. A few simple changes here may save money spent on vets’ fees and help keep your companion by your side for longer.

While I was in the pet food trade a few years ago, I realised that if I was to keep my customers long-term, I had to keep their pets healthy! I studied the science of pet animal nutrition and developed my business with an ethical attitude and top quality products. This direction not only helped my customers’ pets, it helped my business too – I was to go on to win an award for my customer service. Today, I no longer deliver their dinners but I still care deeply about the animals I met on my travels, so offer here a few tips to consider for your best friend.

Food

The pet food business is booming, with new brands and alluring marketing endlessly vying for our loyalty. Many people now choose raw food for their pets, but not all animals will thrive on this. If you prefer to leave the science to the specialists, head for a trustworthy, local pet shop. Look past the packaging, the appealing pictures and the promotional claims and check out the small print. Look for a high percentage of protein, less or no grain and definitely no unnatural additives or colourings! Buy British, buy where the supply is refreshed regularly and buy the best you can afford – often a costlier food will last longer, as less is required, so do your homework. Cheap, grain-filled food, will not nourish your pet and simply end up in the poop-scoop!

Exercise

You know it, don’t you? We all need to take more exercise. Many people buy a small dog like my own, expecting it to be happy with a 5-minute daily trot round the block. Let me tell you, my tiny “all-weather” tramper would walk me off my feet! Meanwhile, a friend’s large greyhound lingers on the sofa and must be cajoled outside for a brief run. Know your breed, what the ideal weight should be and how best to maintain that. Giving your pet more exercise will help your well-being too.

Do Your homework

If you are contemplating a new animal, take time to research the species, the breed, its requirements and be realistic. Will it really fit into your life, 365 days of the year, for the length of its anticipated lifespan? Be honest with yourself, and do not give in to pester power (the kids’, the partner’s or your inner-five-year-old’s). Taking responsibility for this addition to your family should never be taken lightly.

Much of this may be common sense. However, we know this is not always easily found! On behalf of your hairy hound or mousing moggy, I urge you to take time to care for their health, as well as yours, so that you may both be “springing forward” together for a long time to come.

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