Pets love the security of routine and consistency and this applies not only to their diet but also their daily exercise and leadership from you.
We all love our pets and want to do the best for them but sometimes in our efforts to show how much we love them, we may actually be inadvertently harming them.
From over-feeding them or feeding them the wrong type of food to not giving them enough exercise could cause serious health problems for our beloved furry friends.
So take this quiz to see if you might be ‘killing your pet with kindness’ – and be honest!
1) When you are having dinner and your pet comes over to sit by your chair and look at you with those sad eyes, do you:
a) ignore him
b) immediately give him something from your plate
2) How do you decide how much to feed your pet?
a) I use the instructions on the food label as a rough guide but adjust the amount according to the weight checks at the vet
b) I just keep feeding him until he seems satisfied – I don’t want him to go hungry!
3) If your pet is a bit lazy about exercise, what do you do?
a) I encourage him to get out for some exercise every day, even if it’s just a short walk. I play games with his favourite toys to make things more interesting and exciting for him and encourage him to move about
I just leave him be – poor thing – he is napping so sweetly, I don’t want to disturb him.
4) How do you show your pet that you love him?
a) I set aside time every day to do something with him, whether this is a grooming session, playing with his toys, some training, a walk or visit to somewhere interesting.
b) I buy him all the latest toys and luxury pet beds and clothing
5) When you are enjoying a ‘human treat’ such as cake, crisps or ice-cream, what about your pet?
a) he might get a small taste once in a while but generally, I avoid giving him too much processed human food
b) I always share what I’m eating with my dog – I couldn’t bear for him to be left out when I’m enjoying something!
6) How do you decide what to feed your pet?
a) I find a diet suitable for his species, activity levels and life stage and stick to that
b) I just give him what I think he might like – anything that sounds delicious to me!
7) If your dog is scared of something, what do you do?
a) I ignore any fearful behaviour because I don’t want to reinforce that with attention and I only give my dog praise and attention when he is NOT showing fear and anxiety.
b) I always immediately comfort and reassure the poor darling by picking it, stroking it or telling him that I won’t let that nasty thing hurt him.
8) When you look at your pet’s body, what do you see?
a) a clear outline of their body with a distinct “waistline” in dogs and I can feel their last ribs easily when I run my hands over the side of their body
b) a round tubby body with legs sticking out
If You’ve Answered Mostly A’s
Congratulations! You are obviously a sensible pet owner who realises that loving your pet does not necessarily mean indulging them to the point of excess. You have taken time to understand what your pet really needs to be happy and content and are willing to set aside time and make the effort to ensure that your pets’ emotional and mental – as well as physical – needs are met.
You understand that quality time spent with a pet is worth far more than any expensive toy or bed you could buy. You understand that doing the best for your pet means not always giving in to what they want. For example, heavily seasoned ‘human food’ is not good for pets, no matter how delicious they may taste to you.
Ignoring attention-seeking behaviour from your pets does not mean that you love them less but rather that you care enough to want to teach them good habits which will ultimately cause them less anxiety. With such a sensible and thoughtful owner, your pets are bound to lead long, healthy and happy lives.
If You Answered Mostly B’s
Oh dear. It is obvious that you love your pet very much but your way of showing affection may actually be causing them more harm than good. By doing what you’re doing now, you could easily end up with an obese, unhealthy, neurotic and chronically anxious pet.
Despite your feelings, you must try to resist giving in every time your pet demands food or attention from you. Statistics show that our pets are facing an obesity crisis, with Britain’s dogs and cats among the fattest and laziest in Europe, as owners regularly ‘lavish’ them with highly calorific ‘treats’ and then fail to provide them with enough exercise.
The British Veterinary Association and the RSPCA have stated that “spoiling” pets this way can lead to serious health problems, including diabetes, arthritis and other mobility issues, respiratory and circulatory problems and ultimately, early death.
Remember, it is never too late to change and you can start now with a few simple steps. Next time you want to show how much you love your pet, think about what THEY really need, as opposed to what would make you feel happy.