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Chewy EditorialHealth / Wellness

Vet Q&A: Expert Advice on Healthy Treats, Itchy Paws and Reading Pet Food Labels

Any pet parent will tell you that adding a pet to your family brings up a wide variety of questions. You might find yourself wondering about your pet's joint health, reading pet food labels, or even plain old boredom.

Here's the good news: Pet experts are here to help. Dr. Flavia Tompkins, attending veterinarian at Boca Village Animal Hospital in Boca Raton, Florida, has answers for your most pressing questions about everything from itchy paws to healthy treats.


What can I do to calm my pet's anxiety?

A:The first thing you need to think about is spending more time with your pet. Try to take your pet for long walks, especially before you leave the house.

[Also,] promote a soothing, calming environment in your house. You can play soft music, [or] you can put on a TV channel that can also help to ease their anxieties.

Learn how to create a zen space for your pet.


What are some natural pet remedies for itchy, dry skin and paws?


It's always a good idea to promote a clothing barrier for your pet. You can [also] use some aloe vera products [or] oatmeal soothing baths—those are great.

Also, [try] omega-3 fatty acids ... [They] help you promote a natural anti-inflammatory effect to your pet's skin.

Read more about fish oils and the benefits of omegas for dogs.


What are the best supplements for your pet's joint health?


Do not wait until your pet is limping for you to start using [supplements]. You want to start [building] your [pet's] joint health before your pet's joints become damaged.

Try to avoid high impact exercises. Try to avoid jumping down [from] the couch. In long term, it will prevent your pets from injuring their joints.

Find the best joint supplements for dogs.


What are some rainy day mental stimulation ideas for dogs and cats?


There are a lot of fun things that you can do with your pet, [including] box digging.... You can hide [toys in some boxes]. They can dig their toys in it. [Pet parents] can hide treats in there too and that keeps them busy.

You can also use toys ... where you can hide little treats and you can make them work for it. Use treats [or] use your dental chews to keep them busy and keep them entertained.

[You can also have] play dates, having pets coming over, to have fun and enjoy the time together with your pets.

Try these 15-minute games to play with dogs.


What should pet parents look for when it comes to healthy treats?


You want to look or a treat that is compatible with your pet’s lifestyle. You want to make sure it's a treat that your pet can digest. U.S. products are preferable over overseas products, and you want to [check] the origin of the ingredients as well—that they all made in the USA.

[Ask yourself,] What's the purpose of the treat? [Are you] looking for a treat for training? [Are you] looking for a treat for oral care? Or a treat just to keep your pet entertained?

You want to look at the caloric intake [too]. There are some treats that can be very high in calories and proteins, [in quantities] that your pet may not need anymore if you have a geriatric patient. If you have a very active pet, then you can look into treats that are higher in calories and that's going to be beneficial for your pet.


How do you read pet food labels?


You want to make sure that the food is AFCO approved, that the guaranteed analysis is accurate so you have the right amount of protein, fats, and fiber on the diet.

You [also] want to make sure it fits your pet’s lifestyle. You want to make sure it fits your pet's needs. So ... if you have a puppy, you will choose a food appropriate for a puppy, for growth. If you have a middle-aged pet or a senior pet, you also going to find foods that are adjusted for their age.

Breeds, different sizes of pets, also have to be taken into consideration when it comes to choosing the proper food because not just the size of the kibbles matter, but also the calorie intake on the food on the diet also matters for your pets.

Learn more about the ages and stages of dog food.

By: Chewy Editorial