Living the Healthiest Lifestyle Possible with Your Pet
Craig Espelien, PetChatz®
What does it mean to “live healthy”? If you ask some folks it is “diet” for others it is “exercise” and for many it is a combination of those two — with varying levels of rigor. Exercise can mean multiple hours per day of hard work or the laborious chore of getting up to change the channel rather than use the remote. From a diet perspective, there is everything from the SeeFood Diet (you see food, you eat it) to any of the latest fad diets to other choices like being Vegan or vegetarian (or one of the variations).
At PetChatz® we embrace the concept of diet and exercise — but we also go a step further. A healthy lifestyle includes having a healthy mind — and how you interact with your four-legged friends and how you perceive their happiness can greatly impact this. We embrace this extra level because we believe that your life is better with your pet involved in an active way and we know that their lives are better when you are an active participant in their lives — even when you can’t always be in the same room. Let’s look at each of these three aspects of a healthy lifestyle and explore how The PetChatz System can help elevate all three areas of your life — and perhaps more important — of your pet’s life.
While most people associate “being healthy” with diet and exercise, with pets it may be more important to understand how to positively impact mental health. As pet owners, we tend to humanize our four legged friends which may not always be best. Their minds work differently and much of what they think and feel is related to how they are treated and how they are “managed”. Like children, pets need to understand the rules and enforcement of the rules should be consistent and fair (see last month’s white paper for a discussion on pet memory and what “fair” means to a pet). Also, with pet adoptions on the rise — which is a good thing (see the infographic below on the state of shelters and strays here in the US) — pet behavior when the pack leader (read that as pet parent if you like) leaves becomes something to really understand. Studies we have seen here at PetChatz indicate that 20+% of dogs and 27+% of cats exhibit behaviors linked to separation anxiety (excessive noise making, destructive or over curious behavior, unwanted elimination, etc.). Unfortunately, these issues tend to surface more with shelter pets (PetChatz is partnering with industry experts on pet behavior to study how to change the trajectory of shelter pet behavior) due to their being “disconnected” from people for a period of time. So how can we influence this if we have to live the rest of our lives — jobs, vacations, trips to the store, etc.?
There is a whole new array of technology that allows pet parents to keep tabs on their pets. The PetChatz System is the only system to provide a full array of engagement options. The basics like a “pet camera” are included, of course, although PetChatz provides two-way audio and video which is somewhat unique in this space. This means not only can you see/hear your pet but they can also see and hear you. Additionally, you can diffuse calming scents with each call (specially formulated scent to be safe for all animals in the home) and dispense treats for good behavior (see below for why PetChatz Treatz® may be a better solution for all training needs). With the PawCall® accessory (sold separately) you can also let your pet call you or you can set the system into Game Mode where your pet gets rewarded for interacting with the system. Finally, you can monitor what is going on in the house while you are away — with both Silent Mode and Event Alerts (sound and motion detection with alerts sent to your phone) that keep you informed of what is happening while you are gone.
Having a healthy body usually begins with what you eat (same things for pets). Like humans, dogs and cats can be overweight — and can suffer from multiple maladies based on carrying around this extra weight. Here are some statistics from a 2014 study on pets and weight:
- 52.7% of dogs are either overweight or obese (estimate)
- 57.9% of cats are eight overweight or obese (estimate)
Some problems that can be caused by being overweight:
- Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart and Respiratory Disease
- Cranial Cruciate Ligament Injury
- Kidney Disease
- Many Forms of Cancer
- Decreased life expectancy (up to 2.5 years)
One of the main reasons we here at PetChatz developed the treats we sell (natural, grain free, meat first, etc.) is that we believe that healthy eating is the first step to a healthy body. Combined with regular exercise, feeding your pet nutrient dense foods and treats (the reason our treats are smaller is to make it “okay” to feed more to reward proper behavior) will help them maintain a healthy body weight and avoid other issues like skin and coat challenges.
From an exercise perspective, breeds differ with how much they want or need. A few good walks everyday will do your dog good (for you the parent as well) and cats will also benefit from some physical activity. Not all cats will suffer a lead and collar — but if yours will, get out and walk that cat! Otherwise, jumping and running (sometimes pointlessly) to another room is what cats need to stay in shape.
Another “exercise” decision is breed based — make sure you research breed types and activity levels. These levels should match your lifestyle and your living space. As an example, A Jack Russell Terrier (high energy breed that needs a lot of exercise) may not be the best breed to buy if you live a more sedate lifestyle in a smaller space. Conversely, a Cavalier King Charles may not be the best choice if you are an ardent outdoor exercise person.
Are you wondering if your pet is “just right” in terms of weight? Click this link to determine your pet’s “body health”: Healthy Weight Calculator.
A goal for most people is to live a healthy (and happy life). A truism for people as they age is that if you do not have your health, then nothing else matters. Multiple things contribute to a healthy life — like diet and exercise from the above certainly apply — and we feel that “Peace of Mind” for both you and your pet are very important to creating an overall healthy life. At PetChatz, our goal is to connect the disconnected — allowing beings who can’t answer the phone or search Google to get connected with those they love. Additionally, we want to enable “being there from anywhere” — allowing you to connect with your beloved pet no matter where you might be.
Would your life be improved if you could know that your pet is safe and happy when you have to be gone? Would your pet’s life be better if they could interact with you even when you can’t be there? We think so — and our mission continues to be to improve the connection between humans and pets — and leverage emerging technology as the tool to accomplish this.
Improving Your Quality of Life
Soap box time…
There is an old saying: In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count; it’s the life in your years (Abraham Lincoln). Having an overall healthy lifestyle is at the core of this — and we believe not only that furry friends of the four legged variety make the “life in your years” better but also believe that you can positively impact the quality of life in their years by finding ways to make sure they are healthy — from diet and exercise to staying connected. Sometimes that will include being there virtually — and as the world continue to change, perhaps that will become even more true.
Thanks for taking the time to read our musings!
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