When our little puppy leaps into view from behind our kitchen isle, his ears bouncing along behind, one can appreciate fun and abandonment to its enjoyment. When the sight of a trail of toilet paper dragging behind him also comes into view, the simple pleasures of life can be appreciated. The human-animal bond is an interesting one and when we get to see them up close and personal, they take on new meaning. Much has been discussed about the benefits of pet ownership and to have your love returned is as simple as it can be.
It is not uncommon to have a sick animal staying at our clinic, they have little interest in eating and they obviously feel unwell. Yet, their body takes on a new appearance at the sight of their owner. Their whole demeanour changes and they can frequently be enticed to try the small morsel of food, which they had previously ignored.
Frequently, pets are used to teach life lessons such as teaching young kids how to look after and care for another being. We have many farming clients whose farm animals are also their pets, from the odd special animal to a whole mob. I had one farming client a few years ago tell me that he farms sheep because he likes them. Care and respect.
There is much discussion on the perfect pet food diet, and it is pretty much the same as people. All things in moderation. It is good for an animal to have a waist and while the ribs should not be able to be seen, they should be able to be felt with a hand on their ribs. Animals can usually only eat what has been offered them and physically measuring the quantity of food is a good step to take to reduce calorie intake.
How shiny the hair coat is can also be a good indication of adequate diet. My general advice is to feed the best diet you can afford. Keeping a regular eye on bowel motions and urination behaviour is another good monitoring tool to assess health and well-being.
Physical exercise is good for both the body and soul. The ability to move around outside in the fresh air helps our pets and our own mental health. The level of activity required has a wide range and the general idea to not overdo it is good advice for the young and the old. Animals with signs of arthritis (same aches and pains which we experience with age) should be mindfully monitored, as dramatic or increased exercise levels may exacerbate existing conditions and, like people, frequent rest and time are good healers.