January is underway, but it’s not too late to consider New Year’s resolutions. Whether your original vows have fallen by the wayside, or you’ve decided to add another, resolving to improve your life is a win-win for sure. And if you’re fortunate enough to have Fido or Fluffy gracing your family, then choosing a New Year’s resolution that benefits both you and your furry friend is a bonus.
Here are a couple of ideas to help get you started:
Resolve to quit smoking. Indeed, for smokers, kicking the habit can be difficult. If you haven’t succeeded in the past, consider how your smoking affects Fido and Fluffy. Second-hand and third-hand smoke have deleterious health effects for pets. This should not come as a surprise, as one burned cigarette can release over 7000 chemicals.
Most people understand second-hand smoke. What about third-hand smoke? This affects pets, too. Third-hand smoke is the smoke residue that lingers in the environment, such as on furniture, walls, and clothing. Third-hand smoke, with all its toxins and carcinogens, also lingers on pet fur. Pets that spend a lot of time inside, such as indoor cats, cannot escape these chemicals. They breathe them, walk and sleep on them, and ingest these chemicals whenever they groom themselves.
Dogs exposed to smoke have an increased risk of cancer and respiratory disease. Studies have shown that the more packs smoked per day, the greater the dog’s risk of developing disease.
The length of your dog’s nose is a factor in how the smoke will affect him. In particular, longer-nosed breeds have a higher incidence of nasal cancer, and medium and shorter-nosed breeds are at greater risk for lung cancer. That’s because the long snouts filter the air these dogs breathe. Smoke carcinogens and toxins stick to mucosa in the nose, leading to chronic inflammation, cell mutations, and cancer. These long-nosed breeds include retrievers, goldendoodles, and German shepherds.
For shorter-nosed dogs, more smoke toxins reach the deep airways because the air is less filtered by their nostrils as they breathe, allowing them to reach the lungs. Chronic exposure to these irritants and carcinogens doubles the canine risk of developing lung cancer. Popular brachycephalic breeds such as bulldogs, boxers, and puggles are included in this group.
Cats are also negatively affected by second-hand and third-hand smoke. These kitties may develop asthma or chronic coughs. For some cats, the respiratory distress is so severe that it can become life-threatening. Removing the smoke from these cats’ environments often resolves this problem.
In addition, cats that live in homes with smoke have a much higher risk of developing cancer. The risk of malignant lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system, increases threefold if humans in the home smoke more than one pack of cigarettes a day. Feline lymphoma often affects the gastrointestinal tract. Since cats are fastidious groomers, they lick the smoke toxins and carcinogens off their fur and ingest them. This is believed to trigger their cancer.
Cats that live in smoking households also have up to four times the risk of developing oral squamous cell carcinoma, an aggressive mouth cancer. This is often found under the tongue, where smoke particles and chemicals tend to accumulate after grooming.
If cigarettes aren’t your thing, but marijuana is, you’re not off the hook. Puffing joints produces smoke, too. Any smoke residue contains toxins and carcinogens that can harm your pet.
Resolve to exercise more. Increasing exercise seems to be a popular New Year’s resolution that often falls by the wayside. But if you include Fido in your plans, you are more likely to succeed.
Your dog is your best personal trainer. Start your exercise routine – walking, jogging, or hiking – with Fido by your side. After a few short weeks, Fido will come to expect this daily routine and urge you to go out with him, even of you feel like slacking.
If you keep up this routine, you’ll improve your health in many ways. Pet owners, especially those that exercise with their furry friends, enjoy healthier lives. They have lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, less heart disease, healthier weights, and happier moods.
Your pooch will be healthier, too. One-half of pet dogs in this country are overweight or obese. These dogs are more susceptible to multiple health issues such as arthritis, digestive problems, diabetes, and cancer. Their lives are, on average, two years shorter than their normal-weight counterparts. Regular exercise for Fido would help keep him fit and trim, thereby improving his quality and quantity of life with you.
The human-animal bond that comes with regular activity with your pet cannot be understated. Regular exercise for Fido will also improve his mood and help him relax when he’s inside your home. That makes for a happier companion and helps improve the bond with your dog buddy.