Healthy Pet: Healthy Human

Healthy Pet: Healthy Human

The New Year is a time for resolutions and what better way than getting fit and healthy with your pet!

It's common knowledge that pets bring joy and happiness to humans, but the human-animal bond not only brings pleasure but health benefits as well. Stroking, grooming and playing with your pet can relieve stress and lower blood pressure! Taking your dog for a walk is healthy exercise for both of you!

The SPCA highlighted these benefits in our Healthy Pet: Healthy Human campaign which was run from 25th January to 24th April 2016.

Our campaign aims to:

  • Raise awareness of the benefits pets bring to humans!
  • Promote the human-animal bond.
  • Highlight the importance of being fit and healthy (weight and exercise) for both pets and humans.
  • Pass on tips of how to improve your pet’s life from a health aspect but also a happiness one to!

Look our for a similar campaign in 2017!

Unhealthy Pet: Unhealthy Human

Pets mimic their owners in many ways some good some bad! For instance obesity is a major public health issue in many developed countries, but did you know that the same trend has been noted in pets too? 

A recent study estimated that 40% of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese!

More dogs and cats are now living in luxury: gourmet treats, comfortable homes, posh carriers, pushchairs and car rides. Unfortunately this sedentary lifestyle and excessive food intake has led to an increasing number of fat pets, and just as in people, obesity has detrimental consequences on health.

The cost both disease and $$ wise of being an Unhealthy Pet: Unhealthy Human are the same for pets and people.

Obesity, heart and lung problems, diabetes, arthritis (+/- lameness) and heatstroke to name but a few. A vicious circle results where arthritis, obesity etc. reduces exercise tolerance and just makes the problem a whole lot worse! It’s a sad fact overweight, unhealthy pets are often looked after by overweight, unhealthy humans! 

Obese pets are:

69.7% more likely to suffer from Arthritis/Osteoarthritis*

48.2% more likely to suffer from Diabetes mellitus*

(*According to Hill’s Pet Nutrition)


To find out more regarding the health risks linked to obesity please click on the images below. 

Visits to the vet come at a cost in time and money, and worse still they result in suffering and stress for your pet. Generally, overweight animals live shorter and less healthy lives than those at ideal weights, so it is very important to address the issue as early as possible.

If you suspect that your pet is overweight and would like to start a weight management plan, it is important to first get a body check, to rule out any medical reasons for being overweight, such as hormonal diseases or medications, and to be cleared for an exercise and weight loss regime.

 

  • How Healthy and Happy is your Pet?
  • Pets and Human Health
  • Healthy Pet Tips
  • Dog Friendly Places

Have you ever asked yourself how healthy and happy your pet is?

To ensure your pet has a good quality of life, it is essential their Five Welfare Needs are provided for:

  • A suitable diet and fresh water.
  • Ability to express normal behaviours.
  • Companionship, to be housed appropriately either alone or with others.
  • Good health and protection from pain, suffering, injury and disease. Including preventative health care and treatment if sick or injured.
  • Environment, a suitable place to live…shelter, space and opportunity to exercise, to rest and hide!  

Our focus in this campaign will primarily be on good health (slim and trim), environment/exercise, companionship and the ability to perform normal behaviours.

To consider how mentally and physically healthy and happy your pet is check out our list of questions by clicking on the links below. For the answers to queries for your particular pet book a Healthy Pet Check and let our vets advise you! These questionnaires will form part of the consultation process!

HOW HEALTHY AND HAPPY IS YOUR DOG?

The following is a list of questions which will help you consider how healthy and happy your dog is:

  1. Is your pet overweight? Do they have a sagging abdomen, no waist or ribs that are difficult to feel? Please click here to download the Body Fat Index Risk Chart.
  2. Does your dog sleep more often than before, tire easily or have shortness of breath?
  3. How often do you exercise your dog?
  4. How long do you exercise your dog for?
  5. How often do you play or spend time with your dog?
  6. How many hours a day is your dog left on its own?
  7. Does your dog have companions at home e.g. dogs or cats?
  8. If the answer to 8. Is yes how do they interact with each other?
  9. Do you provide toys e.g. Kongs or other distractions e.g. radio noise for your dog when you are not at home?
  10. Is your dog well socialized to strangers, noise or other dogs?
  11. For more information on exercising and stimulating your dog download our information sheet on INTERACTING WITH AND EXERCISING YOUR DOG. 

HOW HEALTHY AND HAPPY IS YOUR CAT?

How healthy and happy is your cat?

The following is a list of questions which will help you consider how healthy and happy your cat is:

  1. Is your cat overweight? Does it have a sagging abdomen, no waist or ribs that are difficult to feel? Please click here to download the Body Fat Index Risk Chart.
  2. Does your cat sleep more often than before, tire easily or have shortness of breath?
  3. Does your cat have an indoor or indoor/outdoor lifestyle?
  4. How often do you play with your cat?
  5. Do you have cat toys to interact with your cat?
  6. Have you created a cat friendly environment at home? (Especially for purely indoor cats). Please click here to download our information sheet on ENVIRONMENTAL ENRICHMENT FOR CATS.
  7. How many hours a day is your cat left on its own?
  8. Does your cat have companions at home e.g. dogs or cats?
  9. If the answer to 8. Is yes how do they interact with each other?

 

The Human-Animal Bond is described by the American Veterinary Medical Association as
"a mutually beneficial and dynamic relationship between people and other animals".

Over the past 20 years research has rapidly expanded our knowledge of the health and emotional benefits that animals can provide. It is now a well-known fact keeping a pet can help develop basic trust, compassion, empathy, a sense of responsibility and enhance self-esteem as well as providing emotional support. Pets can decrease blood pressure, triglyceride and cholesterol levels and feelings of loneliness in people, whilst they increase opportunities for exercise, outdoor activities and socialisation.

Whether pet ownership gives us cause to exercise, offers an antidote for loneliness and/or provides us with loving companions to care for, we now recognize that animals can influence not just our happiness but also our health.

If you are interested in finding out more on this fascinating subject please check out our HUMAN-ANIMAL BOND RESOURCE SHEET.

Ideal Weight

There is no such thing as an absolute ideal weight for a specific dog or cat. Body condition score and Body Fat Index (BFI) are much better markers of excessive weight, looking at the distribution of fat over the body in areas such as the ribs, waist and tail bones. That said there are guidelines available of ideal weight ranges for specific dog and cat breeds.

For more information on Body Fat Indices and Ideal Weight please click on the links below.

BODY FAT INDEX (BFI) RISK CHART FOR DOGS

BODY FAT INDEX (BFI) RISK CHART FOR CATS

WHAT IS AN IDEAL WEIGHT?

 

Cat Tips

Cats have great athletic abilities, strong hunting instincts and other behaviours e.g. scratching and climbing that they would express if given the opportunity. Outdoor (or outdoor-indoor) cats are usually very active, can choose their environment and are able to express normal behaviours. However, most cats in Hong Kong live indoor sedentary life styles, and their welfare can be compromised if they are not given the freedom to express natural behaviours and/or are deprived of the ability to take “time-out” (remove themselves to a quiet place) if needed!

For more information on how to improve your home to keep your cat happy and stimulated please download our information sheet on ENVIRONMENTAL ENRICHMENT FOR CATS.

Dog Tips

Socialisation and Training: is vital from an early age. The main socialsiation period is from 3 to 12-14 weeks of age, and it’s the most important time in a dog’s life with regard to training and providing positive experiences. A dog’s tendency to be hyperactive, destructive, fearful of people, to bite or develop separation anxiety can be largely prevented by positive behavioural training and socialisation to both people and other pets. The SPCA provides training classes and behavioural veterinary consultations for dogs of all ages, for more information call 2232-5567/28020501 or visit our website at http://www.spca.org.hk/en/services/dog-behaviour-and-training . It is essential all family members involved in caring for the dog attend classes/consults to ensure continuity of training. In addition taking your dog to the vets just to be weighed in the waiting room and given a treat (providing positive experiences) will hopefully reduce fear and anxiety for future visits which may be less pleasant!

To download our information sheets on puppy training and socialisation please click on the links below:

TRAINING YOUR PUPPY

PUPPY SOCIALISATION

Exercise and Stimulation: dogs come in all shapes and sizes, ages and temperaments so to produce an exercise plan suitable for all is impossible. Things to consider include age, health status, body condition, breed type and personality.

A holistic approach should be followed considering all of the above, the best person to advise on this is your veterinary surgeon and this advice forms an important part of the Healthy Dog Exercise and Dietary Plan provided at our Healthy Pet Checks.

Choosing the correct exercise gear (collar, halter, harness and lead) is also key to ensuring your dog’s comfort and your control during exercise.

To help stimulate your dog especially when you cannot be around consider interactive toys and/or leaving the radio on to keep your dog stimulated. As with cats getting a companion can also help alleviate boredom but care must be taken to ensure compatibility.

For more information on exercising and stimulating your dog please download our information sheet on INTERACTING WITH AND EXERCISING YOUR DOG.

Weight Loss Tips

Here are some useful tips when planning a weight loss regime for your pet:

  • Aim for your pet to lose 0.5% of body weight per week up to a maximum of 2%. Take extra care with cats, as they are at risk of developing fatty liver disease (hepatic lipidosis) if their weight is reduced too quickly.
  • Feed small frequent meals, your vet may recommend a prescription weight loss diet in order to maximise the success of the program and ensure the correct balance of nutrients is maintained.
  • If your pet is a fast eater and woofs down their food consider investing in an interactive, slow feeder such as those made by Northmate (http://northmate.com/category/products/green/ ).
  • If you must give healthy, low calorie treats, such as small pieces of carrots or boiled/steamed chicken, but make sure to cut down on the amount fed at meal time afterwards. Or better still, reward your pet with affection instead of food. Please click the image below for information on choosing the right treat.
  • Slowly increase exercise with regular walks or swimming for dogs. Encourage your cat to exercise with toys, or hide food and get them to hunt for it.

Ultimately, the success of a weight loss program depends on the owner’s compliance, a sensible target weight should be easily reachable….remember the amount of food and exercise given to your pet is totally under your control. Pets do not open fridges and indulge in midnight feasts!

So, please think twice before giving away those table scraps to your pet; it’s all too easy to “kill your pet with kindness”. With all the health problems obesity brings along, your pet will thank you for keeping them fit and healthy in the long-term.

For more information on obesity and weight loss please download our information sheet on OBESITY

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hong Kong is not known for its dog friendliness, with very limited access to wide open spaces apart from the country parks (which sadly are not on most people’s doorstep and only accessible at weekends and holidays). Dog friendly places not only allow for owners and their dogs to interact with each other in a social setting but surveys have shown many non-dog owners visit these locations to mix with man’s best friend (as their buildings or family members do not allow them to keep dogs themselves).

To help owners find locations near them we have compiled a list of dog friendly places Hong Kong wide. Please click here to open our information resource on DOG FRIENDLY PLACES.