Wellness Isn't Just For Humans — A Vet Explains Why It Should Extend to Your Dog, Too
Quality of life is something that has become ever more top of mind, especially with the perspective we all gained from living through a pandemic. We've not only seen the value in maintaining our physical health, but also that in nurturing our mental health. It all comes down to the broad idea of wellness — and it's not just a field for humans.
"I know I'm not alone when I say the more experience a person has with animals and pets, the more they realize how much we have in common when it comes to our mental, emotional, and physical well-being," says Evan Antin, DVM, a small animal and wildlife vet, star of Animal Planet's "Evan Goes Wild," educator, and People's Sexiest Vet Alive. "Basically anything that improves a human's well being will likely improve a pet's well-being, too."
So what does wellness mean in the context of pet care? While you're probably not going to take your furry pal to a doggy meditation class (OMG, how cute would that be though?), there are a lot of things you can do that will make your dog's life better. "Wellness means more than providing the basic needs: food, water, shelter," says Dr. Antin. "It means there's intention with a diet. There's an effort for stimulation and enrichment and exercise and socializing. More and more people are realizing the emotional and intellectual capacity of their furry friends and making [it] a priority to improve their quality of life."
Dr. Antin explains that one of the major components that affects a dog's wellbeing is exercise. "To me, physical pet wellbeing means staying on top of your pet's medical health and making an effort for activity and exercise," he says. "Certain breeds need daily intensive exercise so dog parks and going on runs are great for them."
Socialization is also a key factor: "Most dogs and cats are very social, too, and not just with people," says Dr. Antin. "By far, most dogs and cats have a much better quality of life when they live with at least one more dog or cat. Cats do like independence at times but they love to play with other cats and groom each other and cuddle. And FYI, nearly all rabbits and rodents (including rats and guinea pigs) need to have a friend living with them. They're all highly social animals and they should never live alone."
Both of these areas can play a big part in your pup's mental health, which, like for us humans, is just as important as physical health. "Mental health, which includes emotional health, means a pet is engaged and stimulated to learn and have fun and be rewarded. This can include basic training, complex training, food puzzles, fetch, etc.," Dr. Antin explains. "A happy dog lives in the moment and shows enthusiasm for common daily activities including when you walk in the door or when they're getting a meal."
When it comes down to it, the wellness of our dogs and our own wellness are intrinsically linked. When your doggo is the best version of themselves, we're the best version of ourselves — science proves it. "It's well-documented that dogs and pets can significantly help reduce depression, improve blood pressure, alleviate PTSD, provide emotional support, provide lots of humor, and more. I personally cannot imagine not having pets in my daily life. They 100 percent improve my mood and happiness every single day."
Dr. Antin also notes that a big part of being our best selves comes from the peace of mind we get when we have pet insurance, like Fetch by The Dodo. "Pet insurance significantly reduces one of the most stressful and difficult factors pet parents face when making medical decisions: money," he says. "It takes a big load off of pet parents. With all the things to be stressed about and costs of daily life, pet insurance certainly lowers [that] stress." And what is wellness if not an attempt to lower stress in our lives?
To go a step further, Fetch by The Dodo can help you predict what issues may come into play down the line for your dog. Fetch Forward, the first and only predictive health platform for pets, can generate a personalized (and free) Pet Health Forecast, which gives every dog parent the ability to understand their dog's health trajectory. It will give you predictions like what kind of diseases are common for your dog, how likely it is that your dog will have an injury, costs associated with each, and, most importantly, recommendations for how to keep your pup healthy and happy. Run your pet's Health Forecast — then print and bring it with you to your next vet visit.