As a pet parent, you may have overlooked some crucial parenting skills that could cost both you and your pet in the long run. We caught up with Carlos Herrera, CEO of Petnet.io, to shed some light on a few important points to make the journey longer and more enjoyable to both pet and parent.
1) Pet owners feel better when they are around their furry children. Why is spending quality time with pets beneficial for people’s health?
Humans and animals have an amazing ability to bond. The human-animal bond is backed by lots of research and, in fact, there is an organization called Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI), which publishes research on the many benefits that occur due to this bonding.
Some of the benefits that occur when humans and pets interact include better health (in part due to increased activity for pet owners), as well as lower levels of stress, reduced feelings of depression, and a sense of purpose and responsibility from actively caring for and nurturing the pet.
2) According to ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters every year. Why should people adopt pets from animal shelters?
Pets who are without a home are usually perfectly suitable for anyone who is considering adding a pet to their household. A large percentage of shelter and recue pets are displaced due to no fault of their own. Rather, their prior owners were either unable to continue caring for them due to illness or age, a change in living situations (e.g. moving to a non-pet-friendly home), and in some cases, just poor ownership like in the situation where the pet parent thinks having a dog or cat requires little or no commitment.
Whatever the case, most of the pets in shelters and rescues are quite loving and deserve a place to call home. For those who are looking for a specific breed and think that they must ‘buy’ their pet, this is simply not true. There are many breed specific rescues that help foster pets. These organizations will typically pull pets out of the kill-shelters and provide them temporary foster homes and medical care until a forever home can be found.
Sadly, of those 7.6 million pets in shelters each year, 2.7 million of them end up being euthanized. Any family who is considering adding a dog or cat to their family should first check the local rescues and shelters before deciding to purchase one.
3) Explain the 1st ingredient rule to the pet owners. How does this analysis lead to uncovering lower-quality recipes?
The first ingredient rule is a very simple rule that states that the first ingredient in a dog or cat food should be meat. The basis for this rule is that because ingredients are required to be listed in the order of their overall weight in the complete recipe. Thus, the ingredients listed early in the ingredient list are, by weight, more predominant in the recipe that those listed later.
Although true, this rule alone will not help a pet owner determine if a food is appropriate or of high quality. On average, there are near 40 ingredients in a dog or cat food recipe. A pet parent who would like to scrutinize a pet food recipe will need to dig deeper than just the 1st ingredient to do so.
Foods that contain whole, named protein sources as well as fruits and vegetables for vitamins and minerals, are the most desirable. Foods high in protein and moderate to high in fat are also more appropriate for dogs and cats than the carbohydrate heavy recipes that are so prevalent in the stores.
There is also a little ‘trick’ that some food brands use to make it appear that meat is the predominant ingredient in a food when it might not be. This is called ingredients splitting. The pet food recipe can be manipulated to make it look better than it actually is by splitting apart inferior ingredients into two or more different ingredients which can ‘move’ the meat to the top of the ingredient list while moving down the inferior ingredient. Here is an sample list of ingredients from a made-up food: Chicken, Rice, Rice Bran, Wheat, Wheat Gluten, ….
By splitting the rice and wheat ingredients into two separate ingredients, the manufacturer can satisfy the label requirement even though it is quite probable that the food contains more rice and wheat than it does chicken!
4) Some owners don’t pay attention to their pet’s diet and keep their bellies full. What are the costs of having a fat pet?
As if shortened lifespans and lower quality of life are not enough reasons to keep a pet trim, perhaps the realization of how costly it can be to have an overweight pet can be the impetus to change pet owner behavior for the betterment of their pet and their bank account.
In 2009, a study at the Michigan State veterinary hospital and funded by Hill’s Pet Nutrition, was conducted to determine the annual treatment costs associated with common canine and feline diseases and disorders. The results are shown in the Tables below.