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Tips to embrace pet care for life

First-time and experienced pet owners should work with their veterinarian to establish a balanced healthcare regimen and find effective solutions to provide their dog with the best care throughout its lifespan.



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Merck Animal Health, known as MSD Animal Health outside the US and Canada, a division of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA, announced a new survey about first-time dog owners and whether or not they were prepared for pet parenthood. Results from the “Embracing Pet Care for Life” survey revealed that taking care of a new pet, especially during a pandemic, may not be as simple as one may think.

While many people found comfort during the COVID-19 pandemic by bringing home new dogs for companionship, the survey found that 73% of those who became dog owners for the first time this year have considered re-homing once the pandemic ends.1 This is likely driven by a lack of knowledge of what it takes to care for a pet, as one in four (25%) also claim they don’t have enough information to properly care for their dog. In fact, among new dog owners who brought home puppies this year, more than half (58%) say they wish taking care of their pet’s health didn’t take so much time, and 33% were surprised to find out how much it costs to care for their pet.  

“Based on our recent survey, it appears the pandemic has intensified some of the challenges faced by many new dog owners,” said Christine Royal, DVM, Executive Director of Veterinary Professional Services, Merck Animal Health. “While people may have brought home a pet during the pandemic for all the right reasons, the reality is that pet ownership takes knowledge, preparation and patience. This reality is sometimes overshadowed by the excitement of bringing home a new pet. As a result, first-time pet owners who brought home a dog or puppy during the pandemic are experiencing a few more challenges compared to experienced pet owners. Luckily, there are several ways to streamline pet care that can improve the health and well-being of both dog owners and their furry friends.”  

Survey results indicated that 70% of all dog owners would like to learn new ways to keep their dog healthy, whether a puppy or fully grown. First-time and experienced pet owners should work with their veterinarian to establish a balanced healthcare regimen and find effective solutions to provide their dog with the best care throughout its lifespan.

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Expel Excess Energy

More than one-third (38%) of pandemic puppy owners say they were surprised by how much attention their pet requires. Additionally, one-third (33%) of the people who became dog owners for the first time during the pandemic (“pandemic first-time dog owners”) and are now considering re-homing their dog cited their dog’s high energy as a contributing factor.

  • Pet Care Tip: For those with pets that have excessive energy, try taking them on shorter, more frequent walks throughout the day. Pet activity trackers also can help by monitoring a dog’s activity and sending alerts if there are any changes in behavior, so their owners can then make adjustments as needed. Always remember that excessive energy is common in dogs of all ages as they get accustomed to a new home.

Protect Puppies from Parasites

One-third (35%) of pandemic first-time dog owners say giving their dog flea and tick preventative treatments has been an unexpected hurdle, ranking this responsibility as even more difficult than housebreaking. With this in mind, it comes to no surprise that nearly one-third (29%) of all pandemic puppy owners, including both experienced and first-time dog owners, said they were surprised to learn how much parasites can impact their dog’s health.

  • Pet Care Tip: For many pandemic puppy owners who were surprised by how much parasites can impact their dog’s health; the key is to make sure young pups are protected. Puppies can also be exposed to internal intestinal parasites, so it’s important for dog owners to think about complementary products which offer broad-spectrum, internal and external parasite protection against six different kind of parasites in dogs and puppies. Just remember to always talk to a veterinarian about the proper medications and dosage for puppies.

Simplify Parasite Prevention for Adult Dogs

Only slightly more than half (57%) of pandemic first-time dog owners consider themselves knowledgeable about their pet’s preventative healthcare such as parasite prevention, even though most of them originally thought they were adequately or even overly prepared before bringing a new dog home. Additionally, 37% of people who already owned dogs have been spending more time with their four-legged companions outside since the pandemic started, which includes taking them on more walks (38%), going hiking (14%), camping (11%) and bringing them to parks more often (18%). As a result, they are potentially exposing their dog(s) to more fleas and ticks than usual, making parasite protection critical.

  • Pet Care Tip: Parasite protection is something that remains critical throughout a dog’s lifetime. Keep it simple and effective. Knowing parasite protection is critical to a dog’s long-term health and well-being, pet owners should talk to their veterinarian about preventative products that fight against the most common, harmful parasites that affect dogs inside and out. 

Maintain a Preventative Care Schedule

Nearly one-fourth of pandemic first-time dog owners (22%) report they have encountered unexpected challenges when trying to schedule veterinary appointments. Approximately one-third (27%) of people who owned dogs prior to the pandemic said this was a challenge for them, as well.

  • Pet Care Tip: Regular veterinarian visits are key to preventing health issues among dogs, especially when it comes to recommended core vaccinations that protect them from serious diseases. A monthly schedule can help. Talk to your veterinarian about a preventative care schedule and try not to skip any appointments. Also, keep in mind that recommendations for some vaccines and other preventative measures may vary depending on the dog’s overall lifestyle, activity levels and local climate, so talk to a veterinarian about your dog’s unique needs.
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Recognize Your Veterinary Team is a Valuable Resource – Even Virtually

Overall, more than half of pandemic dog owners say they wish taking care of their dog’s health was easier and less time consuming (57% and 56%, respectively). Nearly half of pre-pandemic dog owners feel the same way (46% and 34%, respectively); however, only 19% of them say they have spoken to their vet more often during the pandemic.

  • Pet Care Tip: Your entire veterinary team can be a great resource for pet care advice, including the veterinarian nurses at your local clinic. As a pet owner, consider writing down all pet care questions and/or challenges in advance to gather trustworthy advice from the veterinarian during the next visit. And for dog owners having trouble scheduling in-person or curbside veterinary appointments, ask the veterinary team about telemedicine and if a virtual visit is possible. 

“The increased interest in pet parenting has been incredibly heartening, particularly given the emotional strain caused by the global pandemic. It’s inspiring to see thousands of families opening their doors and their hearts to welcome new pets into their home,” said Courtney Campbell, DVM, DACVS-SA, veterinary surgeon at Vetsurg. “As veterinary professionals, we aim to make these transitions a success and want pets to stay in their forever home. My goal is to always empower people to be the best pet parents they possibly can. I encourage all new pet families to foster an open and trusting dialogue with their veterinary medical team. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or get your questions answered. With these pet care tips in mind, you’ll be able to enjoy each other’s company for a long time.”

For more information and professional advice on how to embrace pet care for life, visit and follow Merck Animal Health on social media.

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Pet Care

Feed Fido fresh human-grade dog food to scoop less poop

Diets made with human-grade ingredients are not only highly palatable, they’re extremely digestible. And that means less poop to scoop. Up to 66% less.



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For decades, kibble has been our go-to diet for dogs. But the dog food marketplace has exploded in recent years, with grain-free, fresh, and now human-grade offerings crowding the shelves. All commercial dog foods must meet standards for complete and balanced nutrition, so how do consumers know what to choose?

A new University of Illinois comparison study shows diets made with human-grade ingredients are not only highly palatable, they’re extremely digestible. And that means less poop to scoop. Up to 66% less.

“Based on past research we’ve conducted I’m not surprised with the results when feeding human-grade compared to an extruded dry diet,” says Kelly Swanson, the Kraft Heinz Company Endowed Professor in Human Nutrition in the Department of Animal Sciences and the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Illinois, and co-author on the Journal of Animal Science study. “However, I did not expect to see how well the human-grade fresh food performed, even compared to a fresh commercial processed brand.”

Swanson and his team fed beagles four commercially available diets: a standard extruded diet (kibble); a fresh, refrigerated diet; and two fresh diets made using only USDA-certified human-grade ingredients. These fresh diets include minimally processed ingredients such as beef, chicken, rice, carrots, broccoli, and others in small chunks or a sort of casserole. The dogs consumed each diet for four weeks.

The researchers found that dogs fed the extruded diet had to eat more to maintain their body weight, and produced 1.5 to 2.9 times as much poop as any of the fresh diets.

The researchers also found that the fresh diets uniquely influenced the gut microbial community.

“Because a healthy gut means a healthy mutt, fecal microbial and metabolite profiles are important readouts of diet assessment,” Swanson says. “As we have shown in previous studies, the fecal microbial communities of healthy dogs fed fresh diets were different than those fed kibble. These unique microbial profiles were likely due to differences in diet processing, ingredient source, and the concentration and type of dietary fibers, proteins, and fats that are known to influence what is digested by the dog and what reaches the colon for fermentation.”

Commercially available, fresh prepared whole-food diets have been around for a decade and despite anecdotal reports of health benefits, some nutrition experts were concerned about a lack of scientific evidence to support the feeding of these diets. Swanson published an earlier study in roosters to show the same human-grade fresh diets were up to 40% more digestible than kibble, and his new study in dogs strengthens those findings.

The article, “Nutrient digestibility and fecal characteristics, microbiota, and metabolites in dogs fed human-grade foods,” is published in Journal of Animal Science.

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Pet Care

Mars Petcare eyes to end pet homelessness in Phl

The program aims to end pet homelessness by elevating the reputation of stray animals, heightening awareness on stray pet adoption, and working with public and private stakeholders to create a warm and welcoming environment for pets – be it in animal shelters, homes, or public spaces.



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Mars Petcare, the producers of Pedigree, Whiskas, and other well-loved pet food brands, will soon unveil the Better Cities for Pets Movement (BCFP) in the Philippines and other parts of Southeast Asia.

The program aims to end pet homelessness by elevating the reputation of stray animals, heightening awareness on stray pet adoption, and working with public and private stakeholders to create a warm and welcoming environment for pets – be it in animal shelters, homes, or public spaces.

In an interview, the Philippine Animal Welfare Society revealed that there are around 12 million stray dogs and cats that wander around the Philippines. Stray dogs and cat usually end up in animal pounds, where they are euthanized after a certain period if no one adopts or claims them. The Animal Welfare Act of 1988 allows the killing of animals when the purpose is done for animal population control. Those that are not captured by local animal pounds are vulnerable to starvation, diseases and animal cruelty.

BCFP aims to end homeless by showcasing the beautiful and unique traits of stray animals in the Philippines. BCFP will also be collaborating with public and private stakeholders to encourage stray animal adoption, and educate them on how to become the best pet parents they can be. Finally, it will work with public and private stakeholders to create safe and warm spaces for stray animals, whether they are in the animal shelter, at home or in a public space.

Mars Petcare believes that pets make the world a better place and are committed to live its purpose ‘A Better World For Pets’.   In the next couple of months, Mars Petcare will be rolling out exciting and meaningful partnerships to animal welfare organizations and animal welfare advocates to ensure that no pet in the Philippines is unwanted, unwelcome, and uncared for.

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Pet Care

Factor pets into fire safety planning



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Pets are not just animals, they’re members of the family. While four-legged friends bring joy, it’s important to protect them in the event of a home emergency.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, every year 500,000 pets suffer from smoke inhalation and 40,000 die due to home fires. As you make safety preparations, remember to account for your pets. Know where they like to hide, include them in your evacuation plan and make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are up to date.

Find more fire safety tips for pets at

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