Pet Humanization

The Pet Effect: How Our Dogs’ Health Mirrors Our Own

Written byCaroline Krediet
May 7, 2020

Fresh air. Regular exercise. High-quality food. Plenty of sleep. Sounds like an ideal spa vacation for most people, but by incorporating these elements into a daily routine for yourself and your pet, you increase the health benefits for both of you. Just like with people, diet and nutrition lay at the core of health and wellness for pets. The right mix of nutrients and vitamins is key in dog food, as well as probiotics and fresh ingredients — just what the modern millennial is looking for in their own daily life. By applying the same principles to their dogs’ health, they can keep their pets in good, active shape for longer, which leads to an increased life span — and more good times. In turn, owners are able to enjoy their dogs for longer and reap even greater benefits from spending time with their pups.

Most people realize that having a dog increases your daily exercise, especially if you have an active puppy or a hunting breed. But it goes beyond that for many. Dog walking is a forced adherence to daily exercise — no room for saying you’ll do it tomorrow or the class times just aren’t working for you. Taking your dog for a walk means you’ll get a guarantee of  10, 20, 30 minutes or more of exercise. And that can translate into real weight loss over the course of weeks and months, should that be your goal. Beyond that, increased exercise and lower weight help stave off cardiovascular health issues as well as improve joint health, particularly as one ages. The same applies for dogs, who need exercise and a healthy, high-quality diet to avoid obesity.

Another element that keeps everyone healthy is sharing regular mealtimes. If your dog is eating at set times each day, you’re more likely to join him. Recent studies show that having a set schedule for eating increases the likelihood of weight loss and helps to maintain natural circadian rhythms. In fact, just the act of sleeping better can improve your health. A recent study found out that dog owners slept better at night with their dogs in their room (but not in their bed, as anyone who’s ever tried to share the covers with a squirmy dog knows). Sleeping well, waking up to a loving dog, and then having a hearty and nutritious breakfast together sets you up for a healthy day. 

In a special report by Harvard Medical School, dog owners were shown to have lower blood pressure and a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. While contributing factors include exercise and lower stress levels due to the calming effects of having a pet, they also suggest that touch is an important part of the “pet effect” for overall mental health improvement. Keeping your dog’s coat in top-notch condition means you’ll want to bathe your pet even more often — using a gentle, non-drying shampoo is helpful, but the most basic way to improve the glossiness and overall appearance of your dog’s hair is with food. Essential fatty acids are an essential ingredient for the maintenance of a dog’s coat. Also, dogs on low-quality diets or eating food with not enough healthy fat can lead to coat dullness.  

These days, most doctors are recommending a diet filled with fruit, vegetables, and lean meats, that’s lower in carbohydrates. And most people want their food to have been sourced in an ethical manner. And the same applies for pets, as well. Alternative proteins like bison are as good for pets as they are for people, and grain-free (or grain-limited) dog food has become more available. Plus, the addition of probiotics — combined with quality ingredients — improves gut health, which is clinically shown to be crucial to good health for both humans and pets. That means less time both at the doctor and the vet.

And clearly, this all resonates for pet owners: In a recent online survey of 2,000 pet owners, 88% of them are more likely to provide their animals with high-quality nutrition after learning the scientific research on the overall health benefits to pets, including how a good diet can help strengthen a pet’s immune system, maintain intestinal health, increase mental acuity, and keep joints and muscles healthy. It’s a vote of confidence in the mindset that linking our pets’ health to our own helps us all stay healthier and happier, longer. 

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