With the festive season comes rich table scraps and firework displays to celebrate the new year – but what impact does these celebrations have on our pets?
As the festive season kicks into action, there are a number of things to remember in ensuring the well-being of your family pet.
Family get-togethers often lead to pet owners giving their pets a “treat” off the table, in the form of scraps. But how healthy a treat is it really?
According to Barry Hundley, executive director of the Pet Food Industry Association of South Africa (PFI), feeding your pet from the table, could be very harmful to their health. “Commercial pet food is scientifically formulated to provide pets with the right amounts of vitamins and minerals, combined with the correct nutritional balance of nutrients for the life stage and life style of the pet by incorporating the right amount of other ingredients,” he says. “Feeding your pet rich food, unbalanced nutritionally, prepared for human consumption could be very harmful to their short and even long term health.” It is critical for both cats and dogs to be fed a diet with the correct balance of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fibre, vitamins and minerals to suite both their life stage and life style.
“When it comes to young pets, their diets are critical in ensuring that they develop properly and lead healthy long lives,” says Hundley. “Without the required amino acids, essential fats, minerals and vitamins their bodies need for growth and tissue repair, they could end up with deformities.” Likewise older pets require specifically formulated diets to ensure that they can cope with geriatric metabolism and every challenge old age brings. “A malnourished pet could become listless and lose condition – it could even become irritable and aggressive,” he says.
Pet nutritionists have spent years developing food for dogs and cats to suit their specific requirements. These efforts have been incorporated by the majority of responsible pet food manufacturers into their brands of pet food to provide optimum nutrition at reasonable costs while maintaining wholesomeness, palatability and quality. Many pets are living longer and healthier lives when they are fed specific diets that address the nutritional requirements of various life stages. It is, however, important to ensure that you are providing your pets with good quality and nutritional food.
A further consideration over this period is the use of fireworks –we all enjoy this as a display, but often forget the impact on our pets. Animals in general have a heightened sense of hearing, making the noise associated with fireworks extremely loud and scary.
“As we head towards the end of the year and potential New Year celebrations, we urge pet owners to ensure that they take the necessary precautions to keep their pets safe and calm during any fireworks displays,” says Hundley. “Ensure that you keep your pet indoors or that they are at least secure within your yard.” The various associations that work with animals, are usually inundated with strays or traumatized runaway animals as a result of fireworks. These animals are often injured in their attempts to escape the noise. “We therefore urge pet owners to make sure they keep their beloved family pets in mind when planning their festive celebrations,” he concludes.