Your fur (scaley or feather) babies have no control over your choices and to the best of our knowledge, they can’t read. Therefore you may understand the warning label attached to the electric cord, but they don’t. Also, unless you’re Doctor Doolittle, you can’t exactly have a conversation with them in order to talk about their feelings or their opinions. If you do happen to be Doctor Doolittle though, we’re over here crazy jealous.
Just like nutrition plays an important role in our health, so does nutrition impact the healt of your pet. When you eat whole, minimally processed food, you feel good. The same can be said for our pets. Many brands use animal by-products, fillers, preservatives, artificial flavors, and additives that can cause allergies and are simply not healthy. Take time to read the ingredients’ label on the food you’re buying for your pets, just like you would when buying food for yourself and your family. Natural food can help ensure your pet lives a long, happy, and healthy life. All home cooked/raw foods have a higher water content, which helps pets digest his/her food and help him/her have a healthier urinary tract. Foods with high quality protein, minerals, and omegas 3 and 6 help reduce hair loss as well as encourage a softer and more resistant coat. We feed our cats Blue Buffalo Wilderness, which contains high quality protein, natural ingredients, and is free of by-products, artificial flavors, fillers, etc. I know that they also make dog food.
If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook or have been following this blog from the start, you already know that I’m a little bit of a crazy person when it comes to the planet. I encourage the use of clean, natural, and vegan products. This extends to our household cleaners. As I’ve stated in earlier posts (like this one and this one), anything applied to your skin is a absorbed directly into your bloodstream. Therefore, avoiding products with toxic ingredients is beneficial to you and your four-legged children. Their paw pads routinely make contact with your floors and if you have cats, they may hop onto kitchen tables and counters even though you’ve repeatedly asked them not to. Just like products applied to our skin are absorbed into our bloodstream, the same can be said for their tiny little paw pads. Our fur friends also like to lick and chew their feet. Which means that when they walk across your freshly clean floors and then sit down to lick their paw, they not only absorbed the product through the paw pad, but they’ve also ingested it. You see the problem here.
Ingredients that are particularly dangerous to pets if ingested (and absorbed into their bloodstream via their paw pads) are chlorine, ammonia, isopropyl alcohol, formaldehyde, and phenols. Many aerosols and air fresheners are toxic to a bird’s respiratory system and many of the fumes from household cleaners put pets at risk for liver and kidney damage, anemia, and cancer. Personally speaking, we’re a big fan of Seventh Generation and Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day products. They’re not only safe for us and safe for our cats, they also work well. I hate natural, “clean” products that aren’t functional. Bonus points is that both companies used containers made of partially recycled plastic and in turn, can be recycled. Method, is another plant-based, non-toxic brand that is very effective. All three brands are sold at big brand stores like Target, so they’re easy to find. As far as pricing goes, Seventh Generation and Method tend to be more cost effective than Mrs. Meyer’s, but Mrs. Meyer’s often has seasonal scents that go on sale “post-season.” If you’re not picky about using fall or Christmas scents in the middle of March, you can get these products at a drastically reduced price.
If you keep your windows open, make sure the screens are shut, properly installed, and sturdy. The number of cats that fall from windows is alarming. Vets actually call this “High-Rise Syndrome.” If you already have a cat, you already know that they love windows. We have two cat trees next to two different windows that place the cats eye level with the window so that they’re less tempted to try sitting on the window sill. We also keep our windows open just low enough that they can enjoy themselves, but can’t squeeze their bodies onto the window sill in the first place.
Cage placement is key if you have a bird. It may seem like a great idea to place it near the window so they have a view of the outside world, but the window exposes the bird and its sensitive respiratory systems to draft. Sunlight (as well as heaters that typically run the length of the floor beneath the windows) can cause the bird to overheat. As crazy as this may sound, close proximity to a window may also make your bird anxious as it tries to protect itself from “potential predators” outside (i.e. your neighbor’s dog). The kitchen is also not an ideal location due to to heat and the fumes emitted from the oven and overheated nonstick cookware (remember – delicate respiratory systems).
This is going to sound odd, but get down on their level. Literally. Get down on your hands and knees. Take a look around. Is there anything that strikes you as potentially unsafe for your pet? Are there any cords hanging from windows that your pet could accidentally hang themselves on? Any wires poking out of plugs that could electrocute them (and you too, you know!)? Any small plastic pieces that they can choke on?
Are you using pesticides or other bug/pest repellents and traps in and around the house? These can be fatal if ingested by your pet. If you need to use any of this stuff, make sure you keep it in a place that your pet can’t get into or consider adding a latch to your cabinet as a double safety measure. It’s important to know your pet here – our boy cat, Remington, can literally curl his front paw around doors and cabinets to open them, but our girls either can’t or don’t do this. We have to hide stuff in cabinets that are too high for him to get into. Alternatively, I encourage you to use products that are considered “pet-safe.”
Do you have indoor plants in your house? Some of these can be toxic as well. Lilies, for example, can cause kidney failure in cats. If your pet spends time in your yard, you should be aware of which outdoor plants are toxic as well. In the event that you feel that your pet has ingested something hazardous, the ASPCA published information on their website regarding animal poison control as well as common household products and plants that may be toxic to your pets. You can view that page here.
Is there human food that you may have dropped on the floor without realizing it? I’m not calling you a slob. Shit happens to us all and we’re not always paying attention to what we’re doing. Unfortunately, there are lots of people food that pets just can’t have. Chocolate, coffee, caffeine, macadamia nuts, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, chives, and alcohol are just a few foods that are toxic for cats and dogs. Click here to view a more comprehensive list published by the ASPCA.
On the subject of people food, make sure your trash cans are covered in a way that your pets can’t get into it and chow down on your leftovers (and other assorted items). Not only is it a disgusting mess for you to clean up when your pet rummages around in your trash, but it can be very unsafe for the pet as well. Your trash could include any number of the toxic foods mentioned above, but it could also contain chicken bones, seeds, or other small choking hazards. Not to mention, many fruit seeds contain natural contaminants that could result in fatal cyanide poisoning in dogs.
Do you have any other pet safety tips worth sharing? Comment below!