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Pet Care

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.

Photo by BRUNO CERVERA from Unsplash.com

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.
Photo by Matthew Henry from Unsplash.com

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 merck-animal-health-usa.com and follow Merck Animal Health on social media.

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Pet Care

5 Ways to give your cat a purr-fect life

For all the companionship, humor and happiness cats bring, they deserve a purr-fect life, full of tasty treats and quality time with their favorite humans.

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With playful and spunky personalities, cats are known for keeping people entertained. Whether they’re breaking the internet in the latest viral video or making pet parents smile with a spontaneous snuggle, feline friends can be a constant source of joy.

For all the companionship, humor and happiness cats bring, they deserve a purr-fect life, full of tasty treats and quality time with their favorite humans.

For more ways to treat your cat and tips to help make your cat’s life paw-some, visit TemptationsTreats.com.

Provide a Comfortable Environment
To help make sure time with your cats is fun and enjoyable, create an environment they’ll feel comfortable in. Give cats a designated space to call their own, including beds and plenty of toys to help them feel safe and at home. When they’re more comfortable in their space, they’ll likely be more inclined to snuggle and play.

Cuddle Up
Cats are independent creatures and sometimes keep cuddling on their own terms. To encourage snuggles in a way both cats and their humans can enjoy, try offering goodies they’ll love. It can be served as a snack, given by hand or used as a cat food topper to make mealtimes more exciting. When given by hand, it gives cats and their owners a unique bonding experience and allows for more quality time together.

Make Time for Play
Every day should include time for fun. With their attentive nature, many cats enjoy mentally and physically engaging activities. Try finding toys your cats enjoy, like a feather on a string, or throw around a stuffed mouse to give your cats some pouncing practice.

Feed Your Cat’s Feline Instincts
To satisfy your cats’ natural carnivorous feline instincts, consider offering a satisfying snack treats. Try hiding the treats around the house and letting your cats prowl and hunt them down like easy prey.

Be Consistent
Many cats are creatures of habit and value consistency, so create a daily routine to help your pets feel more comfortable. Try offering meals at the same time each day or scheduling consistent time to kick back and relax with your furry friends each evening.

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Pet Care

How to help manage pet separation anxiety

To help pet parents identify separation anxiety in their pets and embrace alone time, consider these tips from Dr. Crista Coppola, PetSmart’s consulting animal behaviorist and separation anxiety expert.

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Photo by Tran Mau Tri Tam from Unsplash.com

For more than a year, working from home and keeping social circles small due to COVID-19 has meant people have been able to spend more time with their pets. However, as more people are vaccinated and restrictions loosen across the country, it’s likely many are spending less time at home with their pets. As a result, pet parents should be prepared to spot the signs of separation anxiety and help their pets manage.

When left at home alone, pets can exhibit behaviors that could indicate they’re experiencing separation anxiety. It’s not a new problem, but it can become more pronounced as pet parents begin to spend less time at home, whether they’re returning to work full-time or just leaving the house more often. It may be especially challenging for pets that found their forever homes during the pandemic, as being alone may be a stark contrast to what they’ve become accustomed to. In these cases, pets may struggle to learn how to cope with being by themselves.

To help pet parents identify separation anxiety in their pets and embrace alone time, consider these tips from Dr. Crista Coppola, PetSmart’s consulting animal behaviorist and separation anxiety expert.

How to Identify Separation Anxiety

Changes in behavior are some of the most common indicators of separation anxiety. These behaviors are coping mechanisms and can include excessive barking or whining, destruction near exit points or windows, having accidents around the house, hyper salivating, pacing, decreased appetite and depression. To better understand what your pet is experiencing, consider setting up a video camera when you leave to see how he or she behaves when you’re not there.

Ways to Prepare Your Pet for Separation

Unpredictability has been shown to add stress for many animals, including dogs, Coppola said. Routines, however, can help many pets cope with stressful situations. Because a vacation or long weekend getaway involves a change in your pet’s routine, these seemingly small changes can make him or her susceptible to separation anxiety. If you know change is coming, slowly introduce your pet to the idea of being alone beforehand to help your four-legged friend prepare. Start by taking short trips outside your home without your pet – even if just for a few minutes – and consider leaving treats or toys to help make the alone time more enjoyable.

When you are ready to leave the house, set up a cozy, inviting space for your pet, where he or she can’t destroy items or get hurt trying to escape. Consider a non-carpeted area in case of accidents or install a doggie door to allow for going outside when necessary. Prior to any period of alone time, mentally and physically engaging your pet by going for a walk or run, or working on quick trick training, can make it more likely he or she spends at least some of the time you’re gone resting.

While you’re gone,  Coppola recommends providing your pets with enrichment activities such as puzzles, chews and calming aids.

Solutions for Coping with Anxiety

If your pet is excessively barking or exhibiting destructive behaviors, never punish him or her and avoid expressing disappointment or frustration, Coppola said. It is understandable to feel this way, but it can upset your pet further and add to the stress he or she may already be feeling. Instead, spend time having fun together when you are home to help ease the transition by gradually introducing your pet to the amount of time left alone.

Learn more and find additional solutions to help deal with separation anxiety at petsmart.com/newnormal.

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Pet Care

Make nutrition a priority for your pet

Providing your cherished companion with a high-quality, nutritionally balanced diet is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your pet lives a happy and healthy life.

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As a dog or cat parent, you are responsible for your pet’s well-being and making good decisions about what’s best for him or her. Providing your cherished companion with a high-quality, nutritionally balanced diet is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your pet lives a happy and healthy life.

A balanced pet food recipe formulated with high-quality ingredients provides your pet with the optimal mix of the proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals he or she needs to thrive. For premium quality, look for recipes that are minimally processed; made with fresh meats, poultry and fish; and contain no artificial preservatives, flavors or colors.

While the quality of ingredients is important, it’s also crucial to choose a recipe that is specific to your pet’s life stage and breed size. This helps ensure it contains the right balance of nutrients to meet your pet’s specific needs, including hip and joint support and weight management as he or she gets older.

Puppy and kitten recipes are specially formulated with higher levels of protein and essential fats to help support the needs of growing pets. Conversely, adult and senior pets may benefit from diets that are lower in calories and fats to help maintain a healthy weight as their metabolisms and activity levels slow.

Large breed dogs may also benefit from ingredients in their diets like glucosamine, chondroitin and green-lipped mussels to support healthy hips and joints as they age. Smaller kibble and breath freshening ingredients like parsley and peppermint are often well-suited for small breed dogs.

By choosing carefully balanced pet foods made with premium ingredients, you can take nutrition to another level for your pet. One example is Now Fresh recipes for dogs and cats. Each kibble recipe is made using fresh, de-boned muscle meat and no by-product or meat meals. The recipes also feature more than 20 nutrient-rich superfood ingredients.

Consider the important benefits superfoods can provide your pet and look for ingredients such as:

  • Whole nest-laid eggs: Eggs are a complete protein, containing all the essential amino acids in the optimal amounts dogs and cats need.
  • Pumpkin: Rich in beta-carotene and prebiotic fiber, pumpkin helps support healthy digestion.
  • Blueberries: A great source of essential fiber and manganese, blueberries are also rich in antioxidants that help support healthy immune systems.
  • Pomegranate: This fruit is rich in antioxidants and a good source of dietary fiber, folate, vitamin C and vitamin K.
  • Papaya: A tropical fruit, papaya is a natural source of digestive enzymes.
  • Cranberries: With antioxidants to support immunity and antimicrobial properties, which can help support urinary tract health.
  • Strawberries: An excellent source of the antioxidant vitamin C, B vitamins, dietary fiber and essential minerals.

When selecting the right food for your pet, look for a statement on the packaging that confirms it has been formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the Association of American Feed Control Officials. An option like Now Fresh also clearly indicates on the package which life stage and breed size the recipe has been formulated for.

Learn more about pet nutrition at NowFresh.com.

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