A recent study compiled by the Australian Companion Animal Council has found the secret to living a longer, healthier life lies with your pet, with pet owners believed to have a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease, decreased levels of cholesterol and lower blood pressure.
With an abundance of positive health benefits to gain from owning a pet, Purina is calling on pet owners to ensure they keep their pets happy and healthy so that they can live longer, happier lives together. Purina's resident animal behaviourist, Dr. Jo Righetti states keeping your pet happy and healthy is as simple as treating them like another member of the family, by providing them with plenty of nutritious food and spending ample quality time together.
"The right food choice for your pet cannot be underestimated as it assists with healthy growth, increases energy levels and helps protect your pet against disease. Purina offer many nutritious options for dogs and cats catering to various lifestyles and life stages".
"Spending quality time with your pet is also critical for their health and wellness. I recommend toys that are interactive and specifically assist your pet with a special need or skill. Pet Life toys for example are designed to suit specific pet needs including cardio, agility or dental".
"Additionally, summer brings on a higher incidence of worms and fleas, so I encourage you to keep your pets happy and healthy by keeping them safe from these nasty creatures. The Total Care Tasty Chew Heartwormer and Allwormer and the Total Care spot-on flea products for example, are great as they can keep your pet healthy with little fuss," said Dr Righetti.
In addition to keeping both you and your pet fighting fit, Dr. Jo Righetti reinforces that there are multiple benefits to owning and caring for a pet.
"Having a furry friend can not only result in positive benefits to our health and wellbeing, but also for the economy. Interestingly it is estimated that there would be national healthcare savings of over $2 billion, if pet ownership increased in Australia".
"Just by being around animals, you feel less stressed and tense. It has been proven that dog and cat owners tend to take fewer trips to the doctor, meaning a significant personal saving," concluded Dr Righetti.
For more information about pet ownership or finding the right products to help keep your pet happy and healthy, visit the Purina website www.purina.com.au or contact the free Purina PetCare advice line on 1800 738 238.
Question: What benefits do pets have?
Dr. Jo Righetti: Pets have a range of benefits, both mentally and physiologically. The companionship a pet can bring is really rewarding, and it gets us outdoors and interacting socially with other pet owners. From a physiological perspective, the incidental exercise you get from having a pet, whether by taking them for a walk or playing with them in the backyard is great cardiovascular activity, and keeps you active.
Question: How does having a pet help us live a longer and healthier life?
Dr. Jo Righetti: Pets bring us great joy and companionship, so they bring us a lot of mental stimulation. Additionally, they are of a benefit physically as by walking with them and playing with them, you manage to do exercise without realising aiding cardiovascular health and fitness!
Question: How does having a pet can lower the incidence of cardiovascular disease, decrease your levels of cholesterol and lower your blood pressure?
Dr. Jo Righetti: Exercise is good for us and dogs can certainly give us the motivation we need to get out and about. In fact people who walk dogs walk, on average, for longer than those people who walk alone. The soothing nature of animals, particularly cats, help to lower blood pressure just through our everyday interactions.
Question: How do these health benefits save over $2 billion in indirect health costs for Australia?
Dr. Jo Righetti: Pet owners visit the doctor less often than non-owners. This statistic came from the notion that if pet ownership increased, the effect on owners would flow throughout the nation, meaning a healthier nation, and less time spent at the doctors. Essentially, owning a pet is great for your health so if pet ownership increased, this would be positive for the nation.
Question: Is it true that pet ownership has direct relationships with reducing stress?
Dr. Jo Righetti: Absolutely. Spending time with a pet is very soothing and relaxing, as is heading outdoors with them. Anything that can take your mind of the daily routines and problems will help reduce your stress.
Question: Do all types of pets have the same healthy benefits?
Dr. Jo Righetti: Dogs tend to provide more physiological benefits, but other pets such as cats or birds are great for mental stimulation, and at helping you relax. All pets provide a similar degree of companionship which is particularly helpful to groups such as the elderly.
Question: What is it important to think about before purchasing a new kitten or puppy?
Dr. Jo Righetti: There are a few factors you should be considering before purchasing a new kitten or puppy. A great resource is Purina's cat and dog breed selector program, which is an online tool which helps determine the best breed of cat or dog for you. These are all to do with lifestyle and economic factors - can you afford the up keep of a pet, do you have enough time to devote to a playful puppy, or the dedication to walk a young Labrador everyday?
Question: How can we go about keeping our pet healthy and happy?
Dr. Jo Righetti: The time you spend with your pets is crucial. Keep them mentally stimulated by providing them with toys is a great way to keep them entertained. Purina's Pet Life toys for example are designed to suit specific pet needs including cardio, agility or dental. Additionally, the right food choice for your pet cannot be underestimated as it assists with healthy growth, increases energy levels and helps protect your pet against disease. This will help keep them happy and healthy, and Purina offers many nutritious options for dogs and cats catering to various lifestyles and life stages.
Question: Leading up into the hotter months what should we look at doing to ensure our pet(s) are healthy and happy in Summer?
Dr. Jo Righetti: Summer time leads to an increase in nasty creatures such as ticks, fleas and worms, so definitely invest in quality products such as Purina's The Total Care Tasty Chew Heartwormer and Allwormer and the Total Care spot-on flea products. Additionally, ensure your pet has plenty of water kept in a cool place, and offer them areas where they can relax in the shade if they are outdoor animals. Other than that, provide them with the usual love and care and your pet will be as happy and healthy as you are this summer.
Interview by Brooke Hunter