Is the eating area in a non-congested place in the kitchen? Are the feeding and water bowls safe from harboring bacteria or leaching contaminants? Is the litter box or your backyard a biohazard? Could the flea products you are using be reaching toxic levels? Consider the following steps to creating a healthier home environment for your pets.
Food and water bowls should be non-lead glazed ceramic, stoneware or glass and if possible designed for pets. New ergonomic designs offer wider saucers for cats and heavy duty bowls for dogs. Plastic harbors bacteria and stainless steel, while durable, can hold a static charge. Clean dishes after each meal and make sure fresh, clean water is available at all times in a number of places in your home. Containers for storing dry foods must be designed for preserving foods and airtight to protect fragile nutrients. Many pet food bags are specially designed to maintain freshness . . . just remember to close it!
Think about your pet’s eating area by using the analogy of a busy restaurant. Do you enjoy your meal sitting next to the kitchen, bumped by passing waiters and trays? Here’s a time to “sit down” with your pet and discover the traffic in his or her eating space. Is it in a pathway for running children, or under foot while you are trying to cook? With some animals like some humans, commotion isn’t an issue and with others it can be the root of digestive distress.
Cat box issues are one of the main reasons cats are surrendered to shelters each year. And the lack of curbing (picking up feces) your dog can lead to transmission of disease - to you or other animals. Within your pet’s environment ask yourself if you would walk barefoot where you are asking them to eliminate. Recognize their innate instincts and learn to honor them. A cat’s natural instinct is to bury their urine in dirt or clay, so if a cat stops using the litter box, first check for medical issues and then evaluate your litter box hygiene. While dogs may be a little more forgiving in elimination preferences, consider whatever he or she steps in will end up on your upholstery or carpet and eventually in their digestive tract after cleaning their paws. Picking up after your dog can help eliminate the transmission of parasites and allow you the opportunity to check the stool for health evaluations.
From kitten and puppyhood to senior years, your furry companion will have accidents from time to time. Cleaning products made with enzymes and bacteria remove stains and odors safely and more thoroughly. Caution must be heeded with other home cleaners for floors, carpets and counters, as pets walk on all these surfaces and then ingest any residue when cleaning paws and fur. While plant extract and citrus-based cleaners are safer alternatives to chemical cleaners, they too can be toxic to cats, birds and exotics in higher concentrations. Be sure to check with any manufacturer for safety questions and precautions.
Flea and Parasite Management
While it would be nice to believe that healthy animals don’t get fleas, this just isn’t the case. A healthier animal may not become infested, but still you will need to address protection during the prime months. Chemically sensitive humans and pets need to evaluate to appropriateness of monthly topical pesticides or household treatments. Question the impact on your pet’s health whenever you are instructed to wear gloves when applying. But don’t assume that because a flea product is natural that it’s safe. D-limonene and Diatomaceous Earth, two products often recommended, need to be respected in treating for fleas. D-limonene in concentrations high enough to be truly effective can be toxic to cats. Diatomaceous Earth, DE, poses health risks through irritation of the eyes, upper respiratory tract and lungs, and can aggravate other medicals conditions such as asthma because of its fine, powdery consistency. Choose products designed for pets and even more so, by species.
Think about bringing the outside world in to stimulate natural instincts. Collect feathers or small shells washed up on the beach for feline play toys or leave a grocery paper bag for your cats to play hide-and-seek. Grow fresh pots of grass for both dogs and cats to munch on. It’s nutritious and it may keep them away from indoor plants. Hide feeding balls filled with treats around your home to encourage a hunt of sorts. This can also be done for dogs, with a number of feeding toys available in a range of sizes and challenge levels. Just remember to account for these treats in the total daily calorie count.
Scratching trees with a mixture of textures are a must for cats, even those without claws. Scratching isn’t just for shaping claws, it allows cats to mark territory and work out frustrations. Do your homework with design, substrates, construction and coverings looking for designs created for a cat’s natural instincts. The ideal cat tree incorporates a vertical scratching surface at least 30″ high with a sturdy horizontal surface to encourage kitty stretches and quality sisal and carpet even bark as inviting textures for those determined scratchers.
Our companion animals benefit from spaces of their own. Whether it’s an orthopedic bed or multi-level cat condo, pets need their own domain. Trainers encourage dogs to use their bed as their place - a bed and space created just for them, for quiet time and time outs. Cats, especially in multi-cat households, benefit from vertical spaces of perches and bedding. Well-designed pet beds incorporate several unique features based on behavior and safety issues. From the inside out, the bed should be washable and made from hypoallergenic materials such as recycled soda bottles or natural materials such as organic cotton. Wood shavings, while aromatic, can invite mold or allergic reactions. Covers need to be made with comfortable, breathable fabrics chosen for the individual pet, with simple designs minus tempting patches and trimmings. Specialty bedding, such as a heated bed, must meet UGL standards.
Our pets share our homes, train us well, give us strength to persevere, and leave just enough room for us to hang off the bed. Next time you need a different perspective on your home’s health, consider their enlightening point of view.
© Copyright 2009, PetSage, Inc.