Healthy Eating Tips for Pets and the People Who Love Them

Beautiful tabby cat sitting next to a food bowl, placed on the floor next to the living room window, and eating.

Leap into the new year with a new perspective on health and wellness — for you and your pets! Looking for an accountability buddy? Look no further than your own furry best friend. Get in gear with these healthy eating tips for pets and the people who love them.

Ditch the Filler, Love the Fluff

Wholesome is healthy for both people and pets! If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it. Steer clear of chemicals and preservatives, such as BHT and BHA. These additives are harmful, known carcinogens to both people and pets. Food dyes are often added to pet food to create the red and yellow tint in dog or cat kibble. You might be surprised to find many of our favorite chips, cookies, and candies also use this trick. Be sure to read the ingredients on every bag to ensure your choices are healthful — not colorful.

Other fillers to avoid include rendered fat, blood and bone meal, corn, grain, and meat by-products. A healthful diet should be rich in essential fatty acids, protein, and nutrients. Switching to a natural diet will leave your fluffy friend glowing with improved coat and skin wellness. Keep them — and you — shining from the inside out!

Goodbye Gluten 

Yes, we said it. The “G” word. The grainy truth is that going gluten-free is a great way to detox, cleanse, and shed pounds. In humans, a gluten-free diet has been linked to overall improvement in immune system function. Gluten can cause bloating and fatigue, providing limited nutritional value in return. Even a gluten-limited lifestyle is dramatically beneficial in promoting wellness.

Making a change on your own is never easy. That’s why your furbaby is here to help! In dogs, gluten can cause or exasperate allergens, leading to red, itchy skin and ears. Most often found in low-quality dry food, gluten is a filler in disguise, taking the place of ingredients naturally found in the canine diet.

Cats are strict carnivores and should ideally be fed both a grain-free and gluten-free diet. High protein and low starch is key to kitty health.

Even the smallest furry friends, such as rabbits, guinea pigs, and chinchillas, aren’t safe from cheap pellet mixes with added cereal, treats, and — you guessed it — gluten. Opt for quality over fun colors or shapes when it comes to selecting the right diet for your tiny companion.

Pack in the Protein

You may have heard of the Ketogenic diet, but did you know pets crave a high protein, low carb diet too? A balanced ratio of quality protein with minimal carbs promotes energy and wellness. Test the protein boost out with an extra lap around the park!

Sensible Helpings

It’s easy to treat ourselves — and our pets — during the holidays. A little indulgence is fine every once in a while, but the new year is a great time to check in on portion sizes. Read nutritional information on the back of each bag and check in with your veterinarian for recommended feeding guidelines. Keeping a food journal can be a helpful way to track calories and stay on track.

Exotic Focus

There may be a wealth of options when it comes to feeding your cat or dog a natural, healthful diet, but exotic pet owners may need a little help when it comes to feeding their jungle beast. Birds, sugar gliders, and reptiles all require fresh food in their daily routine for kidney, liver, and overall wellness. Consulting an exotic pet veterinarian is the best way to determine which diet is right for your wild child. A host of fruits, vegetables, and yogurt on standby can provide encouragement to eat clean, fresh, and healthy alongside your pet!

For more sensible treat options, check out Charlotte’s First Cat Cafe.

Little Friends Pet Sitting & Dog Walking is here for your pet when you can’t be. With petsitting options for all creatures great and small, pawsitively outstanding dog walkers, and GPS tracking for your on-the-go pup, we’re here to help everyone stay on target in the new year! Contact us today to schedule your dog’s first adventure!

7 Tips for Keeping Your Charlotte Pets Warm This Winter

cat and dog wearing caps to stay warm in the cold outside snow

As the temperatures drop, it’s time to start thinking about all the ways you should be protecting your precious pets this winter. Different dogs and cats react to cold weather differently. Some breeds such as German Shepherds love to roll around in the snow, while small breeds such as Chihuahuas love hibernating in warm blankets for hours on end.

Even if your pet has a thick, heavy coat they can still get chilly in the winter months. Their ears are completely exposed, their paws are directly on frigid concrete, and their noses stick out in the fierce wind. Pets are also at risk for getting frostbite or hypothermia just as their humans are.

Fortunately, it’s easy to protect your pup from the cold weather! Many of the same safety protocols you take for yourself will also keep your best friend safe and cozy. Here are some great tips for you and your favorite pet sitter to follow this winter in Charlotte:

1. Limit Outdoor Time

This may seem like common sense, but it’s very important to follow. No specific breeds are meant to spend a large amount of time outside on the coldest days of winter, not even Alaskan sledding dogs! A quick 20-minute walk for exercise and potty time is perfect. Raise or lower this depending on the temperature and wind chill. If it’s extremely cold, have your dog do their business and get back inside as soon as possible.

Also, make sure to inform your pet sitter that it’s okay to skip a long walk for the day if it’s too frigid outside.

2. Know the Dangerous Warning Signs

If you and your pet are outdoors and you notice any of these signs, get them inside immediately as they could be symptoms of frostbite or hypothermia.

  • Completely stops moving or slows down noticeably
  • Whines or acts nervous/anxious
  • Can’t stop shivering
  • Seems weak
  • Starts rapidly looking for places to borrow for warmth
  • Has ice anywhere on their body

Once indoors, wrap your dog in blankets and call the vet if necessary. Any animal lover should know this information! Be sure to pass it along to pet sitters, neighbors, family and friends who may be watching your furry little friend.

3. Dress Warmly

Dogs and cats with short hair or small bodies need extra help to control their body heat in the winter. Puppies, kittens, and older dogs/cats also have harder times keeping warm. A sweater or coat can be a quick and great idea to help keep your pet more comfortable while indoors or outdoors.

4. Pump Up the Nutrients

Simply adding more protein and fat into your best friend’s diet will help keep their fur coats healthier and plentiful. The more fur they have the warmer they will be! Most pets will also need extra food and water in the winter since they’re burning many more calories to stay warm. It takes a lot of energy to increase body heat! Increase the times and amounts they’re fed each day to help keep them properly “fueled up” and ensure their pet sitter is aware of the feeding changes.

5. Don’t Leave Them Alone in the Car

You know the drill when it’s hot outside, not to leave your pet in the car. Well, the same goes for cold weather too. People don’t realize how quickly cars can cool down when it’s freezing outside. It turns into a refrigerator-like atmosphere very fast. Even if it’s for a short period of time, your pet will likely be very uncomfortable and it could result in a negative outcome. Leave them at home where they are safe and warm.

6. Provide Cozy Options

Just like you love cuddling up with a nice, warm blanket or bed, so does your pet! Leave them with a comfortable bed with a pillow or blanket to relax and sleep in. Make sure to provide these spots away from any drafts in your home and leave a note for the pet sitter to add more blankets if needed, especially for very small pets.

7. Put the Clippers Away

Your dog or cat’s coat provides an incredible amount of warmth. Be sure not to shave them down to their bare skin during the winter months. If your pet needs a haircut, make sure to leave a layer of fur so they can retain warmth properly. If your pet needs a bath make sure to dry them completely before taking them outside.

Don’t let your pooch shiver in shock from the weather this winter! By following these helpful tips and passing them along to your pet sitter, you and your pet will have a much more enjoyable winter. Contact Little Friends Pet Sitting and Dog Walking today for more information!