By Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN
Inflammation is a hot topic, especially for us humans; but, I often find that we leave pets out of the conversation, but why? We humans suffer from inflammation that can cause disease, and so do our pets. After all, dogs and cats (and other animals) get the same/similar diseases that we get, caused largely by inflammation, like heart disease and diabetes. Keeping your pet healthy through healthy lifestyle behaviors can help them to live longer lives and may also keep your wallet healthy (I never mind fewer vet bills!).
February 20th is National Love Your Pet Day, so in celebration, let’s talk about ways that you can keep your pet healthier to avoid inflammation (and some of these tips may help you too!) and help them to live healthier, and hopefully longer, lives.
Beets will certainly turn your dog’s urine red, just like it does yours, but beets are loaded with anti-inflammatory compounds like anthocyanin that can help to keep their insides healthy. You can make doggie treats using beets or beet juice (just google this!)- or you can roast small pieces of beet and use them as treats for your dogs.
If you don’t carefully read your pet’s food label, start doing so! These harmful chemicals are hanging out in your pet’s food and could potentially be really dangerous for them!
One of the recommendations for humans is to be more active to prevent disease and inflammation, and guess what? Pets benefit the same way that humans do with this sort of recommendation. Not only will your pets benefit from this, but so will you by helping them to get more active. If you have a dog, take your dog for a longer walk, you’ll be taking yourself for a longer walk too! You can even use a tennis ball or other toy to have them chase, which will also help them to get more active.
Dogs get plaque in their teeth and so do we, so naturally there’s a market for products to help fight gum disease. The problem with many of these products is that they contain harmful chemicals that humans and pets alike shouldn’t be consuming, like benzoates. So skip these types of products and instead pick up a toothbrush and your pets favorite chicken-flavored toothpaste and start brushing.
Us humans are crazy about avoiding plastic (for these reasons), so why do you let your dog gnaw on it more than you do? Their bodies are a lot smaller than ours so we need to be extra gentle with them. Look for toys made of natural materials like rope and rubber made with bpa and phthalate-free materials (both are toxins); also look for toys with AZO-free dye (color dyes can be harmful to pets over time too).
Turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory, joint-healthy and anti-cancer spice that we humans love to add to our own food, so why not add it to our pets food to help promote healthy joints and to protect their little bodies? I think it’s a great idea. Try adding dried turmeric to any wet food that you feed your dog.
I, like many other animal-owners, love my dogs to sleep in my bed, except the problem is that it keeps both of us up; not good for either my pups or myself. Sleep is so crucial for healthy immune system, memory, mood (this may sound funny but my female Yorkie Sasha gets VERY grumpy when she’s tired, as do I), and more. Although dogs get a lot of sleep during the hours that we’re at work during the day, it’s still important that they get a good night’s rest each and every night, and it’s also key for you. Try getting them their own bed (or at least encourage them to sleep in the bed you already have purchased them) instead of in your bed. You’ll both be happier for doing so!