Could your personal problems be putting your pet at risk? Here's the lowdown on how smoking, obesity, depression and disruptive home environments could be damaging your pet, and what you need to do to help them.
Being obese has an obvious negative impact on our pets as we don’t have the energy to look after them properly. Due to shared lifestyles, it’s very common for an overweight owner to raise an overweight pet.
Excess weight carried by cats and dogs places too much demand on vital organs. This can lead to disease and serious health risks including, but not limited to: diabetes, joint and ligament damage, heart disease, increased blood pressure, difficulty breathing, decreased liver function, decreased stamina, reproductive problems, increased risk of cancer, decreased immune system, skin / coat problems and decreased quality and length of life.
Unfortunately, if the animal needs treatment for any of these obesity-related complications, they will have increased surgical and anesthetic risk, meaning procedures may not be given the go ahead until they have lost enough weight.
It is therefore vital to make sure your pet is being fed the recommended daily nutrition allowance, and given enough exercise for their particular breed. A little research goes a long way.
Image via Tesh
Second-hand smoke affects animals as well as humans. Health risks range from respiratory problems to nasal and lung cancer in dogs and lymphoma in cats.
Their oral tissues become exposed to hazardous amounts of carcinogens that lie in the air, our clothes, hair and furniture.
Birds’ respiratory systems are also hypersensitive to air-born pollutants (think of those mining canaries). They can develop pneumonia and lung cancer as well as developing eye, skin, heart and fertility problems from living in a smokers’ home.
Of course, it’s not easy to simply quit, so in the meantime you can help minimize the negative effects by: smoking outside, changing clothes and washing after smoking / before touching your pet, using a high quality air purifier for excess toxins and disposing of cigarettes/patches far out of reach of your pets.
Firstly it is important to point out that depression is not contagious, as some would have you believe, and our mental health issues do not have a negative effect on our pet’s behaviour.
However, sometimes when we are dealing with our own problems we may neglect the needs of our pet. Try to keep up with your pet’s usual routine and give them the same interaction as best you can.
For instance, if you have a dog and the thought of giving them their usual walk is causing you anxiety today, just attempt a short stroll or play fetch indoors for longer.
If your pet is exhibiting signs of stress or anxiety themselves, such as attention seeking or self-soothing behaviour (more excessive paw licking, grooming, furniture chewing) take them to the vet to see if there are any underlying problems that need inspecting.
It is difficult for some pets to deal with change, however small, as the home is their sanctuary. From moving home, to a relationship break up, to a new brand of air freshener, your pet is part of the family and will feel the change too.
Dogs, cats, hamsters, fish: they are all sensitive creatures that will detect change in the air before we do. Ever wondered why your dog starts pacing anxiously when you’ve only just had the thought of popping out without them?
If you know that there is to be a domestic upheaval or slight change coming up, take measures to keep things as calm and as undisruptive as possible.
Keep on top of their usual routine, shower them with the same glorious levels of affection and attention and perhaps invest in some calming airwick plugins that are designed to help keep their stress levels low.