One health, One medicine: 5 ways people and their pets can stay healthy together

(BPT) – Your household is busy, but keeping yourself, your children and your pets healthy is a top priority. Fortunately, wellness for people and pets can go hand in hand, allowing your entire family to feel their best and live life to the fullest.

“People who take a proactive approach to their physical, mental and social wellness are typically healthier and better prepared if any health issues arise,” says Satesh Bidaisee, Associate Professor and Deputy Chair of St. George’s University Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at St. George’s University. “Same goes with pets, too, which is why family wellness should be a holistic effort.”

Here are the top health recommendations from Dr. Bidaisee. Learn more at www.sgu.edu.

Exercise

People: People should exercise for at least 150 minutes a week (30 minutes per day, five times a week) if doing moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week (25 minutes per day, three days a week) if performing vigorous aerobic activity, recommends the Department of Health and Human Services. Additionally, people should strive to do strength-training exercises at least twice a week.

Pets: Check with your veterinarian for information regarding how much your pet should exercise; this often depends on your pet’s breed and age. Dogs and cats, for example, should typically exercise daily. Simple daily activities like playing fetch or grabbing the laser-pointer take little time and are lots of fun for pets.

Tip: Why not exercise together? Walk with your pup. Do yoga and your cat won’t resist joining in. You both will benefit by being active.

Annual checkups

People: Annual checkups for children and adults are important in order to proactively assess any health concerns. Be sure to ask about important tests like blood sugar, triglycerides, blood pressure, BMI and cholesterol. For females, ask if you’re due for a PAP or mammogram.

Pets: Pets also need to see a veterinarian for a checkup once a year. Things a vet should check include weight, breathing, ears, eyes, dental health, feet, legs, coat and skin. They will ask about behavioral changes, nutrition and exercise, so remember to discuss any concerns.

Tip: It’s difficult to remember when to schedule appointments for each family member. Instead of separating them, schedule all appointments at the same time so you don’t forget.

Vaccines

People: Ask your doctor if you’re up to date on all your vaccines at your annual checkup. Children have a recommended schedule to follow, but adults often overlook important vaccines like the annual flu shot or a tetanus shot every 10 years.

Pets: Vaccines for pets vary by species and sometimes by age. Ask what your vet recommends at your pet’s annual checkup. For dogs, consider distemper, canine adenovirus-2 (hepatitis and respiratory disease), canine parvovirus-2 and rabies. For cats, ask about a distemper and rabies shot.

Tip: Vaccine recommendations change as new research emerges. Ask about any changes in the recommended schedule since your last visit.

Supplements

People: Supplements can boost your health, but before starting any new one, ask your doctor about which would be right for you. For example, in addition to a daily vitamin, other supplements to consider include omega-3s, magnesium, calcium and fiber.

Pets: Pets may benefit from supplements depending on their age. Younger pets may need vitamins to support growth while older pets may need supplements for joint health, such as glucosamine. Work with your vet to learn what’s best for your pet.

Tip: Ask about appropriate dosage so neither you nor your pet take too much of a certain supplement. The right amount will boost health, but too much can cause problems.

Sun protection

People: Use SPF 15 or higher every day. Apply 30 minutes prior to going outside and reapply every two hours, as well as after swimming or excessive sweating, recommends skincancer.org.

Pets: On hot days, it’s important to keep all types of pets out of direct sunlight. Make sure plenty of shade is always available. Furthermore, pet sunscreen is a smart option, particularly for pets with short or white hair.

Tip: In addition to sun protection, both you and your pet need to stay adequately hydrated. During hot and humid days, make sure you both fuel up on H2O.

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