Does Practicing Your Own Health Wellness Spill Over into How You View Your Pets?
I was talking to someone this past weekend who is to be what I would consider health and fitness-savvy. But when the topic of pet nutrition came up, she admitted, she was struggling. She had 2 young children and 3 dogs at home. As we all know, that is a lot to juggle on its own merit. Then you learn that one is a senior pup, and one is a food picky puppy who also goes through vomiting bouts. Against the advice of her vet, she took her new puppy off the “Vet recommended Science Diet” and put all of her dogs on a dehydrated coated kibble, where they all are doing much better. I gave her some other tips on things she could do to incorporate a little extra nutrition to all of her dog's food, such as topping it with some raw goats milk. Not only had she mentioned she was struggling in streamlining everything, she really did not have the knowledge about it either.
This makes sense though. Sometimes because I try to live and breathe health and wellness for pets, I forget that not everyone has the same exposure to the same resources I do. A pet nutrition blog is not next to the “Top 10 Vegetarian Recipes” or the “Sugar Is Bad For You” article. But did you realize the carbs in your pet's kibble also breaks down into sugar, and it’s bad for them too?
It’s easy to assume that a person who cares about their own wellness will transfer this the same amount of attention into their furry family members. The individual may have an up to date pet binder with all their latest vaccinations, schedule annual vet visits, or even establish their pet’s own section in the bathroom medicine cabinet. But the truth is that a handful of us, despite claiming we would do anything for our pets, may not remember the last time our beloved pooch received that important vaccination—or that one time when our family veterinarian strongly insisted that Coco should have her teeth cleaned more often and lay off on those beef treats.
The unfortunate reality is this: we love our pets, but sometimes this love struggles between the balance of too much or too little when it comes to overall wellness. A prime example is the following.
A dedicated dog owner admits they often feed their dog more than the suggested serving amount of treats per day; however, because the brand claims to use all-natural ingredients they found it perfectly safe to offer five or six more treats despite the original two daily. Now we take a look at the label. Surprise! Ironically, the main ingredient is corn flour, with bacon and other meat bi-product as the fifth and sixth listed ingredients. To this the owner finds themselves stuck in a moment mixed of bewilderment and embarrassment. The nutrition label was always there. Why didn’t they read it or, better yet, compare brands instead of carelessly gravitating towards how the item is marketed. Unfortunately, because of how AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) sets nutrition guidelines for pet ingredients, we must do a lot of our own due diligence or ask for guidance from trusted sources in the pet nutrition field. Their guidelines are not always in the best interest of the pets, but that is for a different blog.
Another reality is this: as owners, and as long as a person isn’t intentionally abusing their pet(s) health, we should never feel ashamed for not knowing something we didn’t know before. Creating a wellness regimen takes dedication and practice—and in many instances, it’s only until we’re exposed to other owners, or consider the advice offered by someone in the integrative field, that we truly start to reflect upon our own. It’s a learning process. It’s about acknowledging what works best for your pet(s) and knowing how to incorporate their own wellness schedule into your own. Just like for yourself, wellness plans are not a “one size fits all” for your pet either.
In many ways, this also isn’t as complex as it seems. Think about it like this. A simple regimen would be implementing the EEVNG checklist, an acronym that stands for exams, exercise, vaccinations/titer, nutrition, and grooming. In a broad sense, these are the five most prominent wellness traits that we, as humans, acknowledge on a yearly basis, if not daily.
·When was our last doctor’s visit?
·What did we have for breakfast?
·Was that bowl of sugary cereal truly nutritional, even though the label claimed it was?
·What about our hair?
·Did we shampoo it recently?
Similar to our pets, the overall theme of these questions stimulates self-reflection and awareness. As a dog owner, for example, knowing the main ingredient of any brand of treats may rub off as a useless gesture. We may not have even considered this before; however, when we take a look at the bigger picture, feeding our pooch anywhere from five to six treats per day, in addition to the main ingredient being corn flour, can possibly lead to health or even weight problems in the future. Now that we’ve taken note of this, we will likely feel concerned—and this is actually how our own attitude towards wellness reflects in how we treat our pets.
In other words, if we show signs of caring about what goes into our bodies, it is likely we will also carry a natural longing to acknowledge our own pet’s wellness. ‘’If there’s one thing every dog or cat owner has in common, it’s the desire to ensure a long and happy life for their pet. We want as much time as possible with our four-legged friends. Time for playing. Time for cuddling. Time for just being in the same room with them’’ (Banfield, 2019).
So why wouldn’t we care about our pet’s wellness? You will find that most animal lovers do. It’s just, at the end of the day, it really boils down to how often we acknowledge our own EEVNG—the exterior and interior aspects of our lives that embody a balance of proper nutrition, protection against disease, and hygiene.