Our beloved furry companions deserve the same thoughtful and consistent care as any other member of our family. And, as we all know, there are times when their health requires extra attention. While we all benefit from the security of knowing that we can take our dog or cat to the vet when something goes wrong, the overall health of your pet starts at home.
Your pet’s health and wellness require more than a once-a-year visit to the veterinarian. It requires that you make the best choices when it comes to their diet, their daily routine, and any specialized needs that your cat or dog may have. Let’s go over the many ways in which you can maintain a health and wellness regimen for your pet at home.
What Does Health and Wellness Mean as a Pet Owner?
There are a lot of pet owners out there who only make changes to their pet’s lifestyle and diet when something is wrong, like an illness. But, at the end of the day, we need to employ health and wellness routines that start as soon as that pet is under our care. A lot of pet owners, for example, feed their pet low-quality, cheap pet food, without thinking about the long-term impact that a diet lacking in quality ingredients will have on their life later on.
Knowing the Signs That Your Pet Requires Extra Care
The reality is that a lot of pet owners don’t start considering more proactive health and wellness changes until a pet becomes ill or develops some other kind of health issue. But, often, pets will communicate with us that their health-related needs aren’t being met before the more physical signs of ill health become apparent.
So, what might be some indicators that your pet requires changes to their regimen?
- Skin and Fur-Related Issues: You may be surprised by just how much your pet’s fur and skin can tell you about their overall health. A number of health problems will cause changes to fur and skin, including skin inflammation, flaking, dryness, itchiness, and loss of fur, a loss of luster in the fur, and matting.
- Problems with Energy Levels: Just like humans, pets can become more lethargic and fatigued if their health-related needs aren’t being met. If your furry friend isn’t as playful as they used to be, or they’re sleeping a lot more than usual, you might want to consider that a change needs to be made.
- Aggression: Aggression can be a more dramatic sign that your pet isn’t feeling well, and may be in more discomfort, pain, or emotional distress than you realize.
- Changes in Urine or Stool: A pet’s urine and stool give us a good picture of what’s going on with their health. Changes in urine can include difficulty urinating, blood in urine, and crystals. Changes in stool are typically easier to identify, such as changes in consistency, frequency, or odor. And, of course, if a pet starts having accidents around the house, that’s something to consider as well.
- Weight Changes: Either weight loss or weight gain can point to a variety of potential issues that may need to be addressed, with thyroid issues being the most common culprit.
- Changes in Appetite: If a pet is disinterested in their food, that’s something that you need to pay attention to. Changes in appetite can point to a large number of potential causes.
- Stress/Anxiety: Stress and anxiety manifest in all kinds of ways. Sometimes, stress and anxiety are exacerbated by an underlying health issue, and other times, they’re caused by external stimuli.
- Changes in Mobility: If your pet is showing difficulty moving around like they used to, it’s time to think about the possibility that some changes to their health and wellness routine are in order.
Going to the Veterinarian vs. Addressing the Issue at Home
This article is all about the things that we can do at home to support our pet’s health, but at the same time, that doesn’t mean that everything can be solved at home. There are plenty of instances in which it’s much better to seek the help of a veterinarian. If your pet is showing any sudden or severe changes regarding their health or behavior, we urge you to make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible.
What are the Basic Needs of Our Beloved Companions?
Cats and dogs, like all mammals, have some pretty straightforward needs when it comes to their health and wellness. But, because our pets can’t actually tell us what those needs are, many of them go overlooked to one extent or another, until an actual health crisis occurs. Let’s cover what those basic needs are.
Too many pet owners don’t really give enough thought to the food that their furry friend consumes each day. But, diet is perhaps the most critical part of a pet’s health. And, there’s a lot of pet food on the market that just isn’t giving their bodies what they truly need. Aim for a more species-appropriate diet, taking into account the fact that cats and dogs require an extensive number of nutrients each day, and that their bodies ultimately aren’t designed to consume processed food and fillers like gluten and sugar. Many of the common health issues that affect cats and dogs later in life, like issues with digestion, kidney function, and liver function, stem from the diet choices that we make for them early on, when they’re young.
On a similar note, a lot of pet owners don’t realize that their pet has an intolerance or allergy to a particular ingredient. Like us, other mammals can struggle to tolerate specific ingredients, and this can show up in the form of chronic health issues, such as problems with their stool, skin issues, etc.
Our furry friends require play and other forms of exercise in order to stay healthy. In the wild, cats and dogs spend portions of the day being very physically active, in order to catch prey. If their domesticated cousins aren’t able to work that energy out of their system, they can develop weight problems, depression, aggressive habits, destructive habits, cognitive issues, and more. Try to commit to at least 45 minutes of interactive play each day – the more, the better.
#3: Mental Stimulation
Mental stimulation is perhaps the most commonly overlooked need that a pet has. Again, cats and dogs are designed to be expert hunters, and if that hunting instinct isn’t being exercised, this can lead to mental wellness problems like anxiety and depression, which can, over time, begin to negatively impact their physical health. Consider mentally stimulating toys around the home, such as treat puzzles and electronic toys that interact with your pet when you’re busy. And, make sure your pet is able to look outside easily, to watch birds and other prey, to excite their minds.
#4: Safety and Security
If your cat or dog doesn’t feel safe and secure in your care, a host of health issues can pop up. Cats and dogs are uniquely prone to developing physical conditions when they’re excessively stressed, due to the fact that their bodies aren’t designed to deal with a constant flood of adrenaline hormones. In general, pets require hiding places that they can retreat to in order to feel secure, and they require lots of affection, attention, and predictability in their day-to-day lives in order to feel safe. Pets also need space to roam around, and windows to look out of, or else they can develop depression.
#5: Dental Care
Many pet owners take their pet for their annual dental cleaning and checkup, but we urge you to support their dental and oral health at home, as well. Pets are not able to maintain oral hygiene like us, so it’s our job to do it for them. There are a number of ways to do this, ranging from treats designed to clean their teeth and kill harmful bacteria, to toothbrushes made for cats and dogs.
Yes, you still need to stay up-to-date on your annual veterinarian checkup, and make sure that they’re on top of their annual shots.
A Health and Wellness Routine for Your Pet
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to managing your pet’s health and wellness at home. Every animal has different needs, and their age, species, breed, weight and many other factors can all influence the more specific forms of care that they require.
If you want to get serious, however, there is something we recommend strongly, which is seeking out a pet nutritionist. A pet nutritionist is capable of helping you figure out adjustments that you can make at home to address their needs, and besides helping you make better dietary choices for your pet, which, alone, can be life-changing, they can help you determine whether or not your furry friend requires certain supplements that can deliver major benefits into their daily lives.
There are also lots of ways to educate yourself about how to address your pet’s needs at home. Nowadays, you can find lots of great resources on YouTube and similar online environments. But, remember that before you take any advice on pet health and wellness, and think about making major changes to your pet’s routine, such as trying a new supplement or product, you should always talk to your vet.
Lastly, we encourage you to try to be more in tune with your pet. Like we said before, you can’t ask your cat or dog how they’re feeling, or what needs of theirs aren’t getting met to the fullest. But, what you can do is spend more time observing them, and paying attention to their behavior and physical traits to determine if something is going on with their health. Spend more time looking at their fur and skin, paying attention to their energy levels, and keeping an eye out for changes relating to their urine or stool, which are all great indicators of what’s actually going on inside of them.
What About CBD for Your Furry Friend?
You’ve probably heard about pet owners using CBD for the general wellness of their precious companions. And, there’s a lot of science behind it, proving that it’s more than hype. CBD, short for cannabidiol, is the dominant chemical compound in the hemp plant, and it’s both nontoxic and nonintoxicating to all mammals.
CBD is a cannabinoid, which is a type of compound that works with a mammal’s body to provide all kinds of valuable properties. CBD was discovered in the 1960s, and over the years, researchers have found a number of positive potential benefits, which address our wellness needs from a holistic perspective.
To understand why cannabinoids like CBD can be so valuable to our pets’ daily routines, we need to understand the endocannabinoid system, and how it uses CBD throughout the body. In the 1990s, a research team discovered the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which all mammals share in common. The endocannabinoid system uses a network of cannabinoid receptors that are present in all systems of the body – the nervous system, the immune system, the digestive system, etc. Then, there are endocannabinoids, which are cannabinoids produced within the body, which interact with these receptors.
Cannabinoid receptors, as you may have guessed from their name, have the job of receiving cannabinoids – more specifically, cannabinoids attach themselves to these receptors as an ongoing process of regulating processes performed by these bodily systems with which cannabinoid receptors are correlated. For example, cannabinoid receptors in the nervous system use cannabinoids to regulate physiological processes like mood, sleep, and pain tolerance, while cannabinoid receptors in the immune system regulate processes like inflammation.
The day-to-day functions of the ECS have the purpose of bringing the body into homeostasis, by always regulating processes that we rely on to feel and function to our highest potential. The body also produces cannabinoids, but researchers believe that many mammals are deficient in them, which is why consuming plant cannabinoids like CBD may be incredibly useful. At the same time, it’s been suggested by numerous cannabis researchers that the body produces less cannabinoids as we age, which is why CBD seems to be so particularly useful to seniors, including our senior pets.
Basically, by giving a pet CBD daily, you’re helping to bring them into homeostasis from head to toe, to correct imbalances and offer what their endocannabinoid systems need in order to function as well as possible.
What Can CBD Do for Our Pets?
A staggering number of clinical studies have been performed over the decades since the discovery of CBD, showing us just how effective cannabidiol can be at addressing a host of common issues. A number of studies have tested CBD specifically on dogs and cats, while even more studies show how CBD can offer potential benefits to humans.
Cannabis researchers believe that CBD offers the same overall benefits to all mammals, as the endocannabinoid system of a cat or dog functions in the same manner as that found in a human. That being said, let’s look at some of the most notable properties of cannabidiol, that might be incredibly helpful to your furry friend.
Our pets can show us that they’re anxious or stressed in all kinds of ways – through aggression, through avoidance, through a disinterest in play, or through physical anxiety symptoms like shaking, panting, pacing, and gnawing at their fur/skin. And, like we said, emotional distress in pets can lead to a number of physical health ailments. Of course, no pet owner wants to see their furry friend in emotional distress, regardless of the physical symptoms it may cause.
One of the most common uses of CBD when it comes to pets is easing anxiety and stress behaviors, including aggression, which is almost always just a manifestation of anxiety. In fact, a study showed that dogs who were administered CBD were less reactive to loud noises – a common trigger in dogs, as well as cats. This offers real, clear evidence that cannabidiol may be a valuable way to regulate your pet’s nervous system and minimize their stress response.
One of the most well-researched properties of CBD is its anti-inflammatory effects, which relates to the cannabinoid’s relationship with CB2 receptors, which are cannabinoid receptors that pertain to the immune system. Many, many studies have shown how effective CBD is as an anti-inflammatory.
In a recent study, osteoarthritic dogs were administered cannabidiol daily, to find out whether or not it could actually improve their symptoms. What the study found was that CBD helped them with their pain levels as well as their mobility, proving that the cannabinoid was able to effectively reduce inflammation in their joints.
The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD certainly have the potential to ease discomfort caused by inflammation. But at the same time, CBD has been shown to have analgesic effects, meaning that it may regulate pain intensity and pain sensitivity through mechanisms within the nervous system. This means that administering CBD to cats and dogs could potentially ease pain by lowering the sensitivity of pain receptors.
A lot of research as of late has gone into studying the relationship between CBD and epilepsy. The cannabinoid’s unique potential to offer positive effects to those with epilepsy comes from its neuroprotective properties, which balance neurological function and aid in the protection of neural health and activity in the brain. CBD’s potential as an anti-seizure agent is so strong that it’s the only FDA-backed application to date.
In fact, many pet owners choose CBD as a way to manage their pets’ seizures. Studies have shown time and time again that CBD seems to reduce the frequency and intensity of seizures in all mammals.
CBD’s regulatory effects on neurotransmitters don’t just impact mood, but other functions of the body as well, like appetite. CBD has been reported to provide something of a balancing effect on appetite, and more specifically, many pet owners have reported that giving cannabidiol to their furry friends before feeding time helped them eat more. This can be extremely helpful for any pet owner whose feline or canine does not consume the ideal amount of food each day.
The anti-nausea effects of cannabidiol are also well-known, and also seem to come from this cannabinoid’s ability to regulate serotonin levels in mammals. Of course, as is the case with all of the properties above, if your cat or dog is experiencing frequent bouts of nausea and/or vomiting, they should see a vet to determine whether or not the symptoms are caused by serious health issues.
Help with Skin Issues
Our pets are just as prone to skin issues like skin inflammation and irritation as we are, and these issues can be caused by something external (abrasion, dry weather, etc.), or something going on inside of their body that’s disrupting their skin health. Either way, CBD can offer topical benefits when applied to the affected area, and has been shown in many studies to help with common skin conditions including those of an inflammatory nature, like eczema.
Keep in mind that even if your pet isn’t demonstrating any of the issues above, CBD is still fully worth incorporating into their routine. That’s because the cannabinoid is constantly working with your pet’s endocannabinoid system to keep the body in a state of equilibrium, and even may supply preventative effects while generally aiding in their overall comfort levels.
Bottom Line: Your Pet Deserves the Absolute Best!
As long as a pet is under our care, it’s our responsibility to take care of them as best as possible. That means not only taking them to the vet in times of crisis, but providing them with the best food, attention, play, and overall support so that they can feel their best at all times.
Chill Paws is here to help you make that possible. Our line of pet-friendly CBD products contain lab-tested, organic hemp, and clean, natural ingredients. Our CBD oils and treats are formulated to support your pet’s endocannabinoid system, and act as the perfect addition to their daily wellness routine.