Here’s some expert advice for the holidays – after all, a healthy pet means a happy owner. According to Dr Guy Fyvie, veterinary advisor at Hill’s, South Africa’s most trusted pet food brand, the best recipe is a balanced diet, an active lifestyle and companionship.
Tummy upsets are a common reason for seeing the vet, which isn’t a huge surprise during the festive season, with almost half of pet owners admitting they share their Christmas dinner with the four-legged members of the family. Over-indulging on rich food can cause digestive problems and also lead to excess weight, another big no-no. “Fat cats and dogs are clinically proven to be less happy and are at an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and cancer. Rather than demonstrating love when you over-feed your pets, you may actually be shortening their life,” says Dr Fyvie.
Inappropriate treats such as chocolate (which is toxic to dogs), sweets and bones are not recommended. Rather ask your vet for a recommendation. Hill’s has an excellent range to choose from, with options for overweight pets and those with food allergies or a sensitive skin.
Cats especially are creatures of habit and can become anxious with any lifestyle change, which can have an impact on their behaviour and make them more susceptible to health problems. If you are going away, make sure your pet-sitter is familiar with your pet’s daily routine. Ideally they should 'visit' a few times before you leave, to help minimise separation anxiety.
For cats that are anxious or prone to urinary problems, it may be worth trying a new food, Hill's Prescription Diet c/d Stress, which contains ingredients clinically proven to help reduce stress. Not sure how to tell whether your cat is stressed? Take the online Kitty Stress-O-Meter www.hillspromo.co.za/stressometer and see how it scores.
When it comes to gifts, Dr Fyvie recommends healthy treats and toys that encourage exercise and play. “Spending time with your pet these holidays will be the best gift of all.”