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Pet Care

Tips for new and seasoned pet owners on how to keep happy, healthy pets

Pet Insure is a customized non-life product specifically designed to protect the health of dogs no matter their breed, allowing dog parents to fully address the needs of their fur babies, including emergencies and accidents.



Filipinos adore having pets. With 79% of Filipinos being pet owners, it’s no surprise that they find joy in taking care of animals, whether they’re of the feathered, furred, or even scaled kind. But beyond the joy of companionship and protection, pets offer a multitude of health benefits, including increasing opportunities to exercise and socialize and even alleviating feelings of loneliness, allowing pet owners to live healthier, happier lives.

Pets offer unconditional love to their families, and as such, it is every pet parent’s responsibility to ensure that their pets are also living their best and healthiest lives. So if you’re planning to be a first-time pet parent or a pet parent looking for tips on how to care for your pets better, here are some tips to take into consideration.

Ensure that your pet can thrive in the environment you’re in

Yes, pets are cute and are a joy to have around but the first step for any prospective pet owner is to gauge if the pet you want to take care of can thrive in the environment you’re living in. In the Philippines, that means looking for pets that can live in tropical climates.

For furry animals like cats and dogs, this means looking for breeds that have the right kind of coats and body structures. Otherwise, pet parents should invest in creating the right environment for their pets, including proper temperature regulation and ventilation.

Feed your pets food that’s proper and healthy for them

A responsible pet parent should always do research on what to feed their pets. Like humans, pets can have intolerances, allergies, and even food that are poisonous for them. It’s important to learn about what a proper, balanced diet is like for your pet and this can be done through research and through consultations with your veterinarian.

Exercise your pets

Pets need exercise, as this not only helps them burn their energy but also keeps them limber and mentally and physically healthy, as in the case of dogs. Just make sure that the type of exercise you give your pets is appropriate for them, as different pets and breeds require different kinds of exercise.

Keep up with their checkups and vaccinations

Taking care of pets is very much like taking care of ourselves–they need proper nutrition, exercise, and regular medical checkups. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, all pets should receive a physical medical examination at least once a year. These visits include regular vaccinations and treatments to ensure that they are healthy, as unlike humans, pets may not be able to communicate or show outward signs of disease or injury–things a trained veterinarian can spot and provide treatment and guidance on.

Invest in pet insurance

Routine vet visits and even unexpected medical emergencies can put strain on a pet owner’s finances, which is why it’s important to consider getting a pet insurance product like Pet Insure.

Pet Insure is a customized non-life product specifically designed to protect the health of dogs no matter their breed, allowing dog parents to fully address the needs of their fur babies, including emergencies and accidents.

Regional insurtech Igloo, together with Malayan Insurance and GCash, created Pet Insure to afford owners convenience and security as it offers three-in-one coverage that includes medical reimbursement for veterinary care up to a maximum of P100,000; owner’s liability coverage of up to a maximum of P250,000; and a personal accident cover for dog owners worth P50,000 for as low as P650 for a one-month coverage on the GCash GInsure marketplace.

Pet Care

What happens when cats get fat? Scientists weigh in

As cats ate more and gained weight, gastrointestinal transit time was reduced, and so was digestive efficiency. When the body gets less food, it will be more efficient in extracting nutrients. But when the amount of food increases, it passes through the digestive system faster and fewer nutrients are extracted in the process



Cat owners want Kitty to be happy, but providing an abundance of food and snacks can have unintended consequences. Feline obesity is on the rise, impacting the health, longevity, and wellbeing of cats. A new study from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign looks at what happens in the digestive system and gut microbiota when cats eat too much.

“About 60% of cats in the U.S. are overweight, which can lead to health problems such as diabetes and chronic inflammation. While many studies have investigated feline weight loss, there has been little focus on the opposite process, which is also important. In this study, we wanted to learn more about the metabolic and gastrointestinal changes that occur as a result of overeating and weight gain in cats,” says study co-author Kelly Swanson, professor in the Department of Animal Sciences and interim director of the Division of Nutritional Sciences (DNS), part of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) at U. of I.

The study included 11 adult spayed female cats. They were fed a standard dry cat food and after two weeks of baseline measurements, they were allowed to eat as much as they wanted. The researchers collected blood and fecal samples at regular intervals and monitored physical activity.

Once the cats were able to overeat, they immediately increased their food intake substantially and started to gain weight. At the onset of the study, their average body condition score (BCS) was 5.41 on a 9-point scale. After 18 weeks of overfeeding, it had increased to 8.27, corresponding to being 30% overweight. BCS is equivalent to body mass index (BMI) for humans, and 6 or above is considered overweight, Swanson said.

The researchers analyzed changes in fecal output, gastrointestinal transit time, digestive efficiency (nutrient digestibility), and microbiota bacterial composition over the 20-week duration of the study.

“We found that as cats ate more and gained weight, gastrointestinal transit time was reduced, and so was digestive efficiency. When the body gets less food, it will be more efficient in extracting nutrients. But when the amount of food increases, it passes through the digestive system faster and fewer nutrients are extracted in the process,” Swanson explained.  

The researchers also found significant changes in gut microbial composition between the lean cats at baseline and after 18 weeks of weight gain. The relative abundance of Bifidobacterium, which has antimicrobial activity, inhibits pathogens, and stimulates the immune system, increased, while Collinsella, which degrades fiber and has been linked to pro-inflammatory diseases, decreased. These results are opposite to what has been measured in overweight humans and suggest that their association to weight gain is complex, Swanson noted.   

“The change in the gastrointestinal transit time was a novel finding and a potential reason for the change in fecal microbiota. Future studies should consider measuring transit time to better explain modifications to the microbiome of pets,” he added. 

As the cats’ food consumption grew, so did their fecal output. In other words, as they ate more, they also pooped more. At the same time, fecal pH decreased, meaning that the stool became more acidic.

“In humans, a low fecal pH indicates poor absorption of carbohydrates and fat. Our findings correlate with this, as reduced fecal pH aligned with higher food intake and reduced digestibility,” Swanson said.

The researchers also measured the cats’ activity level with a monitor attached to a collar. The cats were housed in a group setting where they were able to interact with each other and play with toys, except for the days when stool samples were collected.

“We expected that weight gain might lead to decreased physical activity, but we did not observe any consistent changes in activity level. However, this could vary with individual cats and their environment, and how much their owners interact with them,” Swanson stated.

Understanding the metabolic and gastrointestinal changes that occur with weight gain and obesity in pets may help with future prevention and treatment plans, the researchers conclude.

Pet owners who want to help their cats lose weight can employ various strategies. In another new study, Swanson and his co-authors showed that restricted feeding can promote safe weight and fat loss in cats. The researchers also suggest pet parents encourage activity in their feline companions. For example, they can stimulate foraging by placing food around the home, or use food puzzles during mealtime to promote engagement and mental enrichment.

After the conclusion of the weight gain study, the 11 cats were put on a restricted-feeding diet that helped them return to normal weight.

The first study, “Effects of overfeeding on the digestive efficiency, voluntary physical activity levels, and fecal characteristics and microbiota of adult cats,” is published in the Journal of Animal Science. Authors are Danielle Opetz, Patricia Oba, and Kelly Swanson.

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Pet Care

Fast facts about healthy skin and coat care for dogs

To get a better understanding of how you can improve your pet’s skin and coat, consider these facts and misperceptions.



The condition and appearance of your dog’s skin and coat can serve as outward indicators of his or her overall health. While grooming is one of the most important steps to maintaining a healthy coat, other factors can play a role in the look and feel of your four-legged friend’s fur.

For example, dull, dry or flaky coats can be external indicators of internal issues. Stress, illness and inadequate nutrition can all lead to lackluster fur. Breed can also play a role in the shininess of your pet’s coat.

To get a better understanding of how you can improve your pet’s skin and coat, consider these facts and misperceptions from the experts at Petcurean, makers of the Go! Solutions line of premium pet food.

Fiction: Frequent washing dries out dogs’ skin and coats.

Regularly bathing your dog removes dirt, dander, debris and odors, and can help clear irritation-causing allergens. However, bathing too frequently removes natural oils, which keep skin supple and the coat soft and pliable. For best results, use a high-quality pet shampoo that’s gentle on the skin and coat then follow up with a nourishing conditioner for smooth, shiny fur.

Fact: Dogs should be groomed regularly.

Regular brushing with proper tools – sometimes as often as daily – is important. Not only can it help prevent matting in long-haired or double-coated dogs, it also stimulates blood flow to the skin, which helps keep it healthy, and ensures you notice any changes in your pet’s skin and coat. Grooming should also include cleaning ears, brushing teeth and trimming nails.

Fiction: Poor hydration does not affect skin or coat.

Fresh, clean water is essential for all bodily functions, including the maintenance of healthy skin. To help keep dogs hydrated, be sure fresh water is available to them, particularly at mealtimes.

Fact: Flea and tick control is essential for healthy skin and shiny coats.

If not controlled, fleas and ticks can wreak havoc on skin, which in turn affects coat quality. The irritation they cause typically promotes excessive scratching and licking.

Fiction: Dogs don’t need to use pet shampoo.

Human skin and hair are different from the skin and fur of dogs and should be treated as such. Shampoo designed for humans can strip oils and lead to dryness when used on dogs, which can result in infections and skin irritations. Be sure to use a shampoo specifically formulated for pets to maintain skin and coat health.

Fact: A high-quality, balanced pet food recipe is key to healthy skin and a shiny coat.

Because every dog is different and has varied energy requirements, the right blend of ingredients – rather than any one specific ingredient – tailored for individual dogs can help achieve healthy skin and shiny coats. For example, recipes like Go! Solutions Skin + Coat Care Large Breed Puppy and Adult Salmon Recipes with Grains are tailor-made for large breed puppies and adults with single-source animal protein from salmon to help build strong muscles; Omega fatty acids to support healthy, hydrated skin and a shiny coat; and the proper balance of nutrients to meet the unique needs of large breed dogs throughout their life stages.

To learn more about recipes that promote healthy skin and shiny coats, visit

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Pet Care

Size matters: How body size shapes dogs’ aging patterns

Smaller dogs may live twice as long life as their larger counterparts. But does this size difference also impact how dogs age in terms of behavior and cognitive abilities?



Smaller dogs may live twice as long life as their larger counterparts. But does this size difference also impact how dogs age in terms of behavior and cognitive abilities? Based on the data of 15,000 dogs, researchers from ELTE Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, found that larger dogs experience an earlier onset of age-related decline (at around seven-eight years of age versus ten-eleven years in smaller dogs), but also a slower decline rate compared to smaller dogs. Additionally, the study also points out that, although larger dogs have somewhat shorter lifespans, they also maintain their cognitive health longer and experience a smaller degree of age-related decline than their smaller counterparts.

The average life expectancy of dogs varies more than two-fold between breeds, with giant dogs generally living to seven years and small dogs to fourteen. Purebreds also have a shorter life span than mixed breeds. However, little is known about how life expectancy is related to age-related behavioral and cognitive decline. In a study published in GeroScience, researchers from ELTE Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, explored the intriguing connection between a dog’s size and its aging process.  

The researchers collected data from over 15,000 dogs and assessed the age trajectories of various behavioral characteristics and the prevalence of canine cognitive dysfunction. They investigated at what age the behavioral and cognitive changes start, how fast the changes progress, and also examined factors like the dog’s body size, head shape, purebred status in relation to these age-related changes.

According to the results, behavioral and cognitive aging in dogs begin around ten and a half years of age, but the onset of aging, as well as the aging rate depend on the body size of the dogs. Dogs weighing over thirty kilogram (66 lbs) show an earlier onset of age-related decline by two-three years, but the rate of decline is slower compared to smaller dogs. “Larger dogs experience a physical breakdown at an earlier age, and the accumulating illnesses, and degradation in sensory functions leads to ‘old age behaviors’ long before their mental decline would begin.” – explained Borbála Turcsán, first author of the study.

On the other hand,

dogs weighing less than approximately seven kilogram (14 lbs) exhibited over four times higher prevalence of cognitive decline in old age than larger dogs, supporting the idea that although larger dogs have a shorter lifespan, they also experience a more limited degree of cognitive decline.

Unexpectedly, long-nosed (dolichocephalic) dogs, such as greyhounds, and purebreds have a higher risk of developing cognitive decline in old age compared to meso- and brachycephalic dogs and mixed-breeds. 

One of the most interesting findings of the study was that owners started to consider their dogs “old” around the age of six, regardless of the size of the dog or its purebred status. “Owners consider their dogs “old’ four to five years earlier than would be expected from behavioral data. This may be due to graying and barely noticeable changes,” explained Enikő Kubinyi, Head of the Senior Family Dog Project.

The new research highlights that body size not only influences a dog’s life expectancy, but also its healthspan.

However, the effect is not gradual, as only extreme size groups, the very small (toy) or very large (giant) dogs have markedly different aging trajectories. “For those who want a smaller sized dog but do not want to risk severe mental health problems in old age or want a larger sized dog but do not want to risk physical health problems at 7-8 years of age, we recommend a dog from the 10-30 kg size range.”  – explained Turcsán. “Based on our results, these dogs have a longer healthspan relative to their expected lifespan than their smaller and larger counterparts.”

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