For pets as healthy as you.


Unleash & Explore REVEALED: Australia’s Best Dog Parks















P10 The Final Frontier 5 HOTTEST TRENDS IN PET TECH Immunity Challenge Help Your Pet Stay Healthy This Winter Who’s Creating a Cat-Friendly Home the Boss?

Your Complete Guide to Keeping Your Pet Fit and Active FIT workout the


WIN! Get a Year’s Supply of Pet Food from Ivory Coat Scan to Enter


14 WELCOME TO F.I.T. Fitness for your pet’s life


48 HIGH TECH PETS The pet tech industry is predicted to be worth US$20 billion in 5 years. Here’s the best next-gen tech for your pet.


Unleash & Explore REVEALED: Australia’s Best Dog Parks B














P10 Help Your Pet Stay Healthy This Winter Who’s Immunity Challenge the Boss? The Final Frontier 5 HOTTEST TRENDS IN PET TECH

FIT orkout the

Creating a Cat-Friendly Home


Your Complete Guide to Keeping Your Pet Fit and Active

WIN! Get a Year’s Supply of Pet Food from Ivory Coat Scan to Enter




OUT OF THE PARK Road testing the best dog parks across the country.

52 DEEPERWATER The science of hydration for your pet. Inside this issue

NO-GRAINER The great debate – find out what’s best for your pet. Should you feed your dog grain or grain-free food? 22

42 HELICOPTER OR FREE-RANGE Find out what kind of pet parent you are. 20WHAT THEIR POO TELLS YOU How to ‘read’ your pet’s poo to keep them healthy. 25 ASK THE VET The answers you need to the questions most commonly asked by pet owners.

34WHAT’S IN THE PACKET The lowdown on pet food ingredients. 6 KINDRED CONNECTIONS How to boost your bond with your pet.



60 PLAYING NICE Introducing a puppy or kitten to your pack.

Ben Crowe is mindset coach to some of the world’s greatest athletes, including Ash Barty, but it’s his Spanador, Molly, who keeps him grounded.


The Quantified Self Pet For a recent birthday – there was no 5 or 0 attached to the number – I was given a Garmin Forerunner sports watch. It was an upgrade on the one I’ve been using for the past 5 or so years. From my wrist I can quantify myself – my sleep quality


And that’s what this launch edition of Pet Health magazine is all about: how to keep your pet healthy and fit by focusing on their diet and physical and mental wellbeing – how to keep your pet as healthy as you. These past few years of lockdown and release and lockdown again have taught us all to focus on the things that matter – looking after ourselves and those close to us, including our pets. In this first edition, we hit the ground running, road-testing the best dog parks across Australia; daring you to level up to our F.I.T. workout for pets; entering the pet tech world with the latest technology from the Petaverse to help you look after your pet; and sharing expert advice on pet nutrition, mental health and immunity. Welcome to Pet Health.




(average of 7h 1m), heart rate (53 resting), how active I am and how much energy I’m burning. If I’m honest, I’ve surprised myself by how interested I’ve become in the data – and how it has led to me being more fit, active and healthy. I’ve run more and walked when I could have driven. I think more about the quality of my sleep and what I eat.








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Go into the running to win a year’s supply of Ivory Coat pet food for your best mate. Scan the QR code, enter your details to join our growing community and tell us why Natural Nutrition is important when feeding your best mate.


Competition closes 30.09.22. AU residents only. T&Cs apply. See for further details.

ABN: 54618564257 39 Albany Street Crows Nest 2065

No part of Pet Health may be reproduced without permission.

In the spirit of reconciliation, the Real Pet Food Co with Ivory

Coat acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.

Bonds thatbind As the saying goes, our pets are not our whole lives, but they make our lives whole. Building your bond with your pet can take your relationship to the next level.

red kelpie roams the outback, blending into the dust. Often on his own for long periods of time,

experiences. This can be in the shape of training, playtime or downtime. When training, working together towards a common goal fosters a sense of partnership. You can incorporate praise and treats as rewards to practise positive training. Not only does this help their progress, but it also adds to the positive association your pet is emotional connection with your pet, as well as your physical and mental health. It can be as light as a 10-minute tug-of war game with your dog, or a more intense activity like agility training or a trail run. Cat playtime might involve wands or fishing-rod toys to get them up and about – just make sure the game always ends with them catching their prey. How you play matters. Put away your phone, because it’s important that playtime is intentional and you are making eye contact with your pet – especially if you have a dog. Studies have shown that eye contact increases oxytocin in both humans and dogs, despite it being interpreted as a sign of hostility in many other species. Dogs are adventurous by nature. Tweaking their training or playtime schedule will keep them engaged. Small surprises like a different type of treat as a reward, a new toy or an alternative running route or dog park will stimulate them, keeping them interested. “Many dogs are eager to please humans within their household,” Ivory Coat vet Dr Angus Hayes says. “However, they will all respond to different building with you. Play improves your

rewards. It can be food or treat rewards, or even just a pat and positive words. Exercise and games are great ways of rewarding your pet and can lead to strong bonds.” Cats, in comparison, are creatures of habit. They take comfort in consistency. In cats, attachment to owners is a source of safety and security. For major life changes, be patient and introduce those changes slowly and incrementally. “Cats may be more difficult to bribe with food and exercise,” says Dr Hayes, “but you can generally find something that appeals to them. Games with lasers or toys on a string can provide great entertainment to form a bond, and even providing them with a nice warm cushion and a pat in front of the fire can be highly desirable.” BONDING AGENTS Every individual pet will have their own personality traits and will form a bond in different ways with other household pets and their owners. But there is one common denominator; bonds are boosted when you show your importance to one another and know how to reinforce this connection. The more you put in, the more you and your pet will get out of it.

he sometimes hitches a ride up Pilbara way with community members.

having an active pet also helps you stay active and improves your physical health. Other research shows the bond between pet and owner has positive effects on emotional health. Oxytocin, known as ‘the bonding hormone’, keeps us in a positive feedback loop of attentiveness and attachment. In a human–pet relationship, oxytocin is increased through petting and even mutual gazing. TALK THE TALK Multiple studies and insights from animal behaviourists show that talking to your pet improves your relationship. By using a soft, calm voice, you can show them you care. Communicating in a high-pitched and emotional voice will grab their attention. Look out for how they ‘talk back’ by focusing on your pet’s barks or meows. By learning to pick up on how they sound when they’re happy, agitated or sick, you can meet their needs more easily. SHARED EXPERIENCES Your emotional connection with your pet is reinforced by shared

For much of his life, Red – of Red Dog movie fame – was a dog for all and no one in particular. That was, of course, until he met his chosen owner, John. Theirs was an inseparable bond. Based on a true story, Red and John reflect our own daily experiences of human–pet connection. That excited rumble up the hall to greet you. Your cat ‘bunting’ – yes, that’s the word – their forehead against yours. These are signs of not only a healthy human–pet relationship, but a special bond. The stronger the connection, the better the mental, emotional and physical health benefits for you both. If the pet doesn’t care about the human, their behaviour will reflect this, leading to behavioural problems and limiting what control you have over your pets. HUMAN INTEREST Studies have shown that pets can reduce feelings of loneliness and boost moods. Research fromWashington State University found that just 10 minutes together with your pet decreases cortisol, a stress-related hormone. Of course,



From hydration to hygiene – how to keep your pets active and healthy as winter sets in.

with many chronic diseases, according to Ivory Coat vet Dr Angus Hayes.

It’s that time of year. The puffer jackets come out because keeping our bodies warm helps our immune system better fight viruses. We pay attention to what we eat, reducing stress and improving sleep to ward off sickness and infections. And we dose up on vitamin C to try and

“Everyone knows how their body feels after a few days of excess and eating poorly. Many chronic inflammatory, allergic and autoimmune diseases can benefit from changing the diet and improving gut health,” he says. Here are 6 steps to supercharge your pet’s immune system. They’ll not only help to prevent sickness, but also improve your pet’s overall health and quality of life.

help boost our immunity. But did you know that the immune system of our pets works similar to ours?

Good fitness and a good diet with good gut health will always help any animal, human or otherwise,



“Many chronic inflammatory, allergic and autoimmune diseases can benefit from changing the diet and improving gut health.”

For active dogs who need more exercise, try a game of fetch or taking them to a dog park where they can run around off the leash. On rainy and cold winter days, a game of tug-of-war or an indoor obstacle course will keep them moving – because it’s important to keep up regular exercise even when the weather isn’t great. Dr Hayes says dogs who are used to lots of regular exercise

can sometimes suffer in winter when owners are reluctant to take them out on cold, dark mornings for their daily walk. “Vets can often see more destructive behaviour with the lack of exercise and mental stimulation,” he says. Cats also need daily exercise of around 30 minutes. Get them jumping and climbing with a cat tower, or chasing and pouncing on an enrichment toy.

Exercise boosts immunity by promoting wellbeing through weight control and building strong hearts,

lungs and bones. What helps make

exercising your dog easy and fun is that it is also beneficial for you. Activities can be as simple as a daily 30-minute walk, run or swim with your dog.

Ivory Coat vet Dr Angus Hayes

For dogs that do not appear to be at their best, eating traditional grain containing pet foods, grain-free food is a healthy and nutritious alternative. If your dog is generally in great health with no issues, you can happily feedthem food with or without grains ( just make sure it’s nutritionally complete and balanced). To boost immunity, add vitamin-rich foods to your pet’s diet. Blueberries and pumpkin are excellent sources of vitamin C, while carrots contain betacarotene, a precursor of vitamin A, which is anti-inflammatory and promotes eye health. Cats will need their vitamin A from a meat source. Much like humans, hydration is also important for animal digestion and waste removal processes, particularly in older animals. Always ensure your pet has access to fresh drinking water and shade. You can also including moisture-rich foods into their diet, such as wet pet foods.


It is important to feed your pet a complete and balanced diet that contains the right levels of all the essential nutrients – including protein, fat, fibre, vitamins and minerals. There are many types of pet foods and diets. What you need to feed your pet depends on their breed, life stage, preferences and sensitivities. Some pets crave a variety of different flavours and textures. Others prefer only select foods. If your pet has an intolerance to certain ingredients like grains or chicken, be sure to read the ingredient list before offering food up grains, while others are grain free. Whole grains, which include brown rice and oats, are unrefined grains which are nutritious and encourage a healthy digestive system. for dinner. Some pet foods contain whole





Adding supplements into your pet’s diet helps boost their immunity. Check in with your vet first to ensure you are choosing pet-safe options that can benefit your pet’s individual needs. Your vet can also direct you to the best place to purchase trusted products. Turmeric and fish oil are known to have anti-inflammatory properties and are available as a capsule or as an oil that can be mixed into food. Fish oil

also fosters joint health and a shiny coat, and is helpful for older pet with arthritis. For a healthy gut, pet probiotics help maintain a balance of desirable bacteria and often come as tasty treats and meal toppers that pets love. Speak to your local pet specialty store or vet for their suggestions.



While your efforts to boost your pet’s immune system will pay off, regular vet visits are non-negotiable. The frequency of your appointments will depend on your pet’s age, breed and existing health conditions. But an annual check-up is the minimum, so that any issues can be caught before they become serious. “Pets age a lot faster than we do, and 12 months is a long time in the scheme of their life. A regular check-up can often identify underlying problems so they can

be addressed before they become a big issue,” says Dr Hayes. One of the best things you can do to protect your pet from infectious diseases is to keep up-to-date with their vaccinations through your vet’s recommended regime. Vaccines don’t only prevent disease, they contribute to a healthy lifestyle and proper development. There are also routine parasiticide treatments that you should give to your pet. These include treatments to prevent fleas and intestinal worms,

like hookworms and tapeworms, which lead to abdominal pain and weight loss in dogs. Heartworm is another parasite, and treatment is risky and costly; prevention is key, and is possible with regular worming medication. For your cat, there are also treatments to prevent fleas, mites and worms – do not use dog flea treatments on your cat, as it can be fatal.


Grooming and washing keeps ticks, fleas, mites, bacteria and diseases at bay. Wash your pet’s bedding, bowls and toys at least fortnightly, and regularly vacuum carpeted areas your pet has access to. For bathing, every 4 to 6 weeks is sufficient. Use products developed specifically for pets to help keep them looking

(and smelling) their best. Grooming should be done more often, including brushing, clipping and shaving to prevent eye, ear, skin and nail infections. Keeping your pet’s teeth clean prevents plaque and tartar accumulation, which lead to dental trouble and very sore mouths over time. Promote good oral health by brushing your pet’s

teeth at least weekly, using a pet toothbrush and pet toothpaste. Include a specifically formulated dental dry food in their diet, and encourage pets to chew on dental treats or chew toys.

Healthy body, healthy mind. Or so the saying goes. But the opposite is also the case.

issues, such as excessive barking, when you are out of the house. In cats, separation anxiety shows as excessive meowing or self grooming, a change in their eating habits – like not eating or eating too quickly – vomiting and diarrhoea. If you notice any of these signs, make an appointment to see your vet. Do your part to alleviate your pet’s anxiety with regular playtime. Challenge their mind with enrichment toys

KONGs – snowman-like rubber balls for both dogs and cats – have an unpredictable bounce, great for chasing and catching. For your dog, puzzle feeders or snuffle mats satisfy their instinct to sniff, forage and solve problems. For your cat, engage their hunting instincts with a feather wand – or for independent play, an electronic flopping fish or simple toy mouse.


Your pet’s mental state affects their immune system, similar to how stress can weaken ours. Separation anxiety happens to both dogs and cats. In dogs, look out for signs such as increased panting and salivating, inappropriate urinating and chewing household items. Speak to your neighbours and see if they have noticed any behavioural

but unfortunately for them, they suffer in silence and don’t let us know how they are feeling. A lot of arthritis pain will flare up and increase in the cold weather,” Dr Hayes says. By strengthening their immune health, our pets are better able to fight off the germs that can cause infection – and stay healthy all year round.

Just because it’s cold, it doesn’t mean your dog wants to walk less, and winter doesn’t necessarily stop your cat from slipping out the sliding door. If you’re seeking to make the most of winter with your pet, it’s vital to boost their immune system, the same way we take care of ours. “Yes, a lot of pets feel much of the same sensations as we do,

that nurture their natural instincts.



Well beings 4 ways to

boost your pet’s mental health

Your star employee

Ever feel like your cat is just a little melancholy? Does your dog seem a little stressed out? Dogs and cats are sentient animals – meaning they can experience both positive and negative emotions, from pleasure and comfort to anxiety and fear. Just like in humans, poor mental health in your pets – such as anxiety – can lead to poor physical health and wellbeing, and signs of compulsive behaviour, isolation and overeating. A study from Nature’s Scientific Reports shows dogs can reflect the stress levels of their owners. Mental health matters – for both of you. Here are 4 key ways to improve your pet’s environment to make their life more enriching.



A pet’s (social) life Research shows that social contact of the human and pet kind reduces stress and increases relaxation for your pet. Spending time with your pet is all about social interaction and building a strong relationship. Depending on your pet’s individual personality, you can also expand their social circle to include other people and pets. Spending time at dog parks or at a doggy day care gives your dog a chance to interact, socialise and play with other dogs in a safe, monitored environment. Although many cats prefer the company of themselves and only select humans, daily playtime keeps them active and engaged. You can also take slow steps to introduce them to house guests, especially when they are still young.

Materials can make them happy 4 Regularly changing toys, reducing the number of toys available and, of course, offering new toys can prevent your pet from getting bored, keeping them stimulated for longer. It can also help to bring in items that give your pet choices and a sense of control. For example, a pet door allows them to choose to be inside or outside, while a raised platform means they can switch up their perspective – which is particularly important for cats.

Occupational enrichment is giving your pet a ‘job’ that’s mentally and physically stimulating. Most pets don’t have a formal ‘job’ like a herding, military or guide dog, so giving them tasks like playing fetch and engaging in agility training requires them to behave a certain way. A snuffle mat is a ‘job’ any pet can do anywhere. This is textured feeding mat where you can hide kibble and treats to encourage natural foraging behaviour.

Will work for treats


Feeding enrichment uses food as a reward to promote natural hunting and foraging behaviours. Another food mat for dogs and cats is a Lickimat, a vet-designed, textured rubber mat where pet food can be deposited. The challenge of slowly licking their food out entertains and calms your pet.

The power of connection We walk her every day, absolutely. It’s as regular as her feed. When we got Molly, I said, “okay, if we get a dog, there’s got to be some rules”. So we had a contract written up. The kids were young, so the contract says that they will feed her and pick up the poo daily. But we lost the contract and the kids went all legal on us saying “sorry dad, no paperwork, no contract”. My oldest son Harry is now studying law! connection with animals, and the connection between dogs and humans. Going for a walk with a dog is great if you want to have a crucial conversation because dogs bring a playful, loving element to an environment. When you’re walking with a dog, both your eyes are facing the dogs, which is a safe equaliser that enables more in-depth conversations. A few years back Andre Agassi was in Melbourne for an event and asked Sally (my wife) for her best tips as a parent of teenagers for connecting with kids. Sally said that going for a drive is a very safe place to have an in-depth conversation with teenagers. Then, she asked if Andre has a dog and he said “yeah, we’ve actually got 2”. She said: “going for a walk with your dog and your kids is amazing for creating a safe environment for a chinwag. You end up having conversations you’d normally wouldn’t have, because there’s something quite safe within the unconditional love of the dog”. For all of us listening in it was one of those ‘aha’ moments. Molly always provides a safe warm place when I’m having conversations with my kids or with clients. There is something quite extraordinary about our

Humans are neuro-biologically hardwired for connection. It’s probably a connection to nature and to animals. Dogs have this combination of playfulness, with their purpose being protecting their family. They have this incredible curiosity, by using their nose to sniff out opportunities. I think there’s something about those intrinsic motivations of play, purpose and curiosity that we, as humans, all crave, because we get distracted by believing life is really serious. Absence makes the dog jump higher My family jokes all the time about which person Molly loves the most. Fair to say there will never be agreement. They all talk to her in different dog voices. I absolutely love that. It just brings this beautiful childlike playfulness into the house, and there’s something incredibly special about that. Because for me, when you’re playful, you’re fully present, and you’re mostly having fun, and I feel it’s a mixture of being happy and grateful at the same time, so it’s merged together. Our favorite Molly moment is when one of the family has been away traveling for a while and Molly first recognizes their scent at the front door. She squeals, sprints laps around the house and she doesn’t know how to slow herself down, such is the adrenaline when she sees me or sees any of the family

Mindset coach Ben Crowe has worked with some of the world’s leading sports stars – from Ash Barty and Dylan Alcott to AFL stars Trent Cotchin and Dusty Martin. The most important member of his team? His Spanador Molly. When I met Molly … Molly is 9 years old. She’s a Spanador, which is a Cocker Spaniel Labrador cross. We had a friend who had a black Spanador and we noticed he used to run on the beach with her all the time. We found out that they love a long run along the beach down at our holiday house at Fairhaven. She loves lying in the sunlight, and then in the morning, she’ll come in and push her nose on us, get our attention. She’s an incredibly loving dog, but very active as well. She can tell if someone picks up their car keys, or if someone’s putting on runners, or activewear, or if she hears her name mentioned. She has this sixth sense – if there’s even the slightest opportunity for her to go to the park she’s all over it. water, they love kids. An alarm clock on four legs She’s a very active dog. But having said that, she loves lying in front of the fire after

after a long time away.

Meet It’s just so beautiful and so funny. She’s pretty special. Molly





















From Fitness Comes Wellbeing

Finding the right combination of physical stimulation, tailored exercise and rest is essential to your pet living their best, active life.


fit human is easy to spot: oversized water bottle, healthy physique, exercise gear and a gymmembership tag are common tells. But it can be more difficult to figure out if our pets are in shape. Often what’s needed is close observation of behaviour – physically fit animals are alert, excitable and maintain a consistent, play, that’s a good sign that they’re happy and healthy. On the flipside, continuous weight gain or lack of motivation to go for awalk could suggest your pet is not active enough. Dogs and cats are evolved for an active life, a result of centuries spent hunting for prey in the wild. Domesticated animals require regular exercise to maintain high energy levels and meet their full physical potential. Exercise provides opportunities for bonding with human families and animal friends alike. Studies show dog owners are 4 times more active than those who don’t own dogs, report fewer health concerns and can even live longer. lean weight. If your dog runs to the door to greet you and is always up for


Different pets have different needs when it comes to exercise and health. Before you hit the dog park or head up that mountain trail, it is important to determine your pet’s fitness level and activity needs based on their age, breed and history (e.g. operations or illnesses in the past or present). This is also a great time to set goals such as reaching a healthy weight or improving overall energy. For older dogs, or pets with specific health issues, visit the vet for a full check-up first. Your vet can also develop a tailored exercise plan for your pet. One of the things a vet will assess is ‘body condition score’ – where your pet sits on a scale from underweight to overweight. While it is best to see an expert if you are worried about your pet’s weight, you can evaluate

body condition at home. First, you’ll need to look at their shape: the waistline should curve in behind the rib cage when viewed from above, and the tummy should slant upwards when viewed side-on. A bulging or sagging belly means your pet is on the heavy side. Next, feel the ribcage by placing your thumbs on their backbone and spreading your fingers out across the ribs. If your pet is a healthy weight, you should be able to feel the ribs easily below a thin layer of fat. A more futuristic approach builds a data profile of your pet’s health using wearable tech. Smart collars monitor vital signs (body temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate), tell you how many calories your pet is burning and track activity. Some products allow you to set fitness goals.


Most dogs need to be walked or taken to the dog park once or twice a day. More active breeds like Golden Retrievers and herding dogs need strenuous activity such as hikes, runs and long frisbee games to wear them out. But even the most energetic dogs have a threshold, so owners should always be on the lookout for signs of fatigue (slowing down or lagging) and overheating (excessive panting, drooling or vomiting).

While they may bolt at the sight of a leash, cats need exercise too. Vets recommend keeping cats indoors for their own safety (and that of nearby wildlife), but there are ways to meet your pet’s exercise needs. Tap into their natural stalking instinct with mechanical toys and laser pointers. Most cats will also be happy enough with a feather on a string, or a cardboard box. For those that love the great outdoors, enclosures are another option. A select few may even be open to taking walks on a harness and leash, but vets recommend starting with short walks at home.




















Hiking: Hikes are agreatway to changeupyour dailywalk. Customise thedifficulty level to suit your petwhile taking in thebeautyof nature. On longer trails, addvariety withperiods of jogging, walkingand sniffing. Swimming: Swimming is low-impact and stress relieving, andworks every majormusclegroup in the The classicway to train your petwhileexercising them is with agameof fetch. Agility training courses at dogparks are another great place to practise commands. Hideandseek: Helpdevelop your dog’s spidey senses by hiding somewhere in your house and callingout to them. This gamewill train your pet to come to the soundof your voice. Dogsports: Activedogs can signup for sportinggroups like flyball andagility training teams. Doga classes are another option for zendogs andowners. body – just 1minute in thewater is equivalent to4minutes of running. Obedience training:






















Lasergames: Catswill stalk a laser in the sameway they wouldabugormouse. Direct thebeamat theground andmove it inquick, short motions. But be careful to keep itwell away fromyour cat’s eyes. Climbingspaces: Catswill climb just about anything for a view fromthe top. Setting upa cat ladder, window hammockor cat castle in your house is agoodway toget themmoving. Hideandseek: Insteadof hiding, set up spaces around your home for your cat to explore, likecardboardboxes withholes cut out. Theywill entertain themselves for hours. Homemade toys: Most cats aren’t fussy about the toy, so longas there’s a humanon theother end. Prioritise interactionwith safe homemade toys like a toilet paper roll. Agilitycourses: For energetic cats try settingupan agility course in your homewith

Optimal fitness is all about balance and tailoring exercise to your pet’s needs. Follow these golden rules.

Have a pre-game plan Mornings and evenings are the best times to exercise in warmer months. Avoid strenuous activity on hot days. If the temperature on the footpath is too hot for your palm, it’s too hot for dog feet. Pets shouldn’t be walked too close to mealtimes as vigorous exercise too close to eating can lead to bloating or a twisted stomach. Activities need to match the fitness capability, breed and overall health of your pet. Some dogs suffer from issues like joint pain that make exercise painful, so consult a vet if health problems are present. If the goal is shedding kilos, ease your pet into their new fitness regime.

Hit your KPIs

objects they can crawl through, jumpover and navigate around.

Dogs need 2 types of physical activity every day. The first is their daily walk. The second is aerobic exercise that leaves your dog panting, including running, swimming or an energetic game of fetch. Research the ideal exercise type for your breed, as some only require light walking while others feel best on 2 hours of vigorous exercise per day. Cats require around 30 minutes of daily exercise to keep them in fighting form. The best way to work out is with energetic play and interactive games that get your feline moving.


Know howmuch is too much

Cool down when you’re done

Fuelling fitness

After a workout, your pet needs rest, water and, if they have been extra good, a small and healthy snack (but save larger meals for later). Make time to cool down before leaving the dog park or when you get home from a run. The goal is to rehydrate your pet with controlled water intake over a period of time – drinking too fast can cause vomiting. On a hot day, you can also toss a cool, wet towel over your dog’s back and wrap it under their stomach, allowing the water to make contact with their skin (the stomach has less hair). This is also a good time to check your pet for bugs, thistles and scratches.

Food is fuel, and exercise must be supported by a nutritious diet. Pets require protein, fats and carbohydrates in their daily intake, with the inclusion of vitamins and minerals to aid in body health and wellbeing. The quantity of food your pet needs comes down to their weight and activity levels. Animals that are more active need more fuel, but overfeeding must be avoided. Treats should also be kept to a minimum, and should only make up 10% of your pet’s daily food intake. To determine the ideal portion plan for your pet, it is best to consult a vet.

Excessive panting, slowing down or stopping on the footpath are telltale signs of fatigue in dogs, so stop and rest. If panting is paired with agitation, confusion or vomiting, your pet has overheated and needs shade, water and vet treatment stat. Remember: it is important to stop for regular water breaks on long walks or runs. Other signs that reveal it is time to scale back your workouts are pad injuries on paws, muscle pain and stiffness, joint injuries, and behaviour changes like a loss of interest and energy. If your dog is showing signs of injury or pain, like uneven weight distribution on their legs, it is time for a trip to the vet. While cats are less likely to succumb to exhaustion, they do get agitated from too much play. Monitor your cat’s reactions and back off if they become annoyed or simply get over the game.


Drop the bag and break out the magnifying glass.

A trained eye can spot signs of poor nutrition, dehydration and more serious issues in pet poo. Follow this comprehensive guide to the perfect and not-so-perfect poos.

We shovel it off the back lawn, fish it out of kitty litter, pick it up at parks and beaches, and carry it around our suburbs. Pet owners spend a lot of time cleaning up poo, but have you ever stopped to take a proper look before bagging and binning? If not, you’re missing out on important information about your pet’s digestive and overall health. You just need to know what tolook for. Often referred to as ‘the second brain’, the gut plays an important role in human and pet health – with research suggesting it helps manage chronic diseases, boosts immunity and improves sleep. As the waste product of the digestive system, pet poo provides many indicators that tell us what’s happening inside our pets’ bodies. “Our pets’ poo is a very important sign of digestion in our pets. Both the frequency and consistency of the poo is important and can highlight underlying issues,” Ivory Coat vet Dr Angus Hayes explains.

THE PICTURE-PERFECT POO While every pet is different, most vets use a scoring system to assess pet poo. It ranks stools from hard and crumbly to completely liquid. The ‘perfect poo’ should be somewhere in the middle – a well-formed shape that’s firm yet supple and doesn’t leave residue on the ground. Smell and colour are important too: a healthy stool should be chocolate brown with a mild odour.


Firm stools that don’t leave behind a residue when picked up

Hard and dry stools that are hard to pass


HOWTO BECOME A PET POO EXPERT FREQUENCY: Adult dogs and cats usually poo at least once a day, but every pet is different. If they are only passing every few days, it may highlight some constipation or a reduced food intake that may be due to any number of diseases. Anything more than once a day might mean your cat is being fed by the neighbours, isn’t digesting food properly or they’re being fed a highly digestible product. If pets are passing faeces many times a day, it may be normal depending on the diet, but may also highlight some underlying inflammation in the digestive tract. COLOUR: Anything other than brown may need a trip to the vet, provided the colour can’t be linked back to something your pet has eaten. Orange stools are linked to inflammation of the pancreas (or carrot overdoses). Green poo is caused by some green treats, but it can also be a sign your pet is experiencing ‘rapid bowel transit’, where bile isn’t absorbed properly in the gut.

GUT HEALTH: Choosing high-quality dog and cat food with nutrient-rich ingredients like brown rice and oats helps gut health. Experts recommend taking a slow-and-steady approach to dietary changes. Introduce the new food gradually over the course of a week, starting by substituting 25% of your pet’s current food with new food, and increasing steadily each day to avoid stomach upsets. CONSULT A VET if you continue to notice abnormalities in your pet’s poo. There are telltale signs of more serious problems you should be on the lookout for. Does your pet look lethargic and miserable? Are they hunched up in pain? Are they eating their food with their typical appetite? Has there been any vomiting? All these signs can be part of something bigger. If your pet is showing signs of pain, lethargy or vomiting extending more than 12 hours or if the signs are progressively getting worse you will need to visit your vet. Your vet may also help if the signs are mild but continue to occur and the simple changes aren’t working. It is important to get to your vet early if signs are progressing, as they can often solve a small problem more easily than if it has escalated.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Many pets eat grass to help with furballs or upset tummies. Be on the watch for excess grass in their poo, which can mean your pet has an intestinal tract problem. Mucus is a telltale sign of inflammation. Some dog breeds also suffer from a condition called ‘pica’, where they crave non-food items like clothing, plastic and rocks, so keep an eye out for foreign objects. Fat, fur and worms are other red flags. FOUL SMELL: Odour is a sign your pet’s gut flora is seriously out of whack – human food or intolerances to pet food ingredients are usually to blame.

Your pet’s poop is never going to smell amazing, but healthy stools should be bearable. EASY FIXES FORMANY POO PROBLEMS

SIMPLE SOLUTIONS: Change what’s going in the other end. Diet is the culprit of many digestive health issues in pets. Just like us, pets need good sources of natural fibre in their diets to stay regular. “There is a broad range of nutrients and micronutrients that are important to maintain a healthy body,” Dr Hayes says. He recommends switching to premium pet food as a first step if you notice digestive upset.

White and grey suggest liver and gall bladder problems. Red usually means there’s blood in your pet’s stool. Call the vet.

“Your pet’s poo is a window into their digestive health, providing clues that will help you spot problems like inflammation and nutrient deficiency. All you need to do is learn how to look.” Dr Angus Hayes

Something to grab but leaves behind a residue

Verywet with little shape

Watery poo with no texture


Grains are hard, dry seeds that are harvested from grasses like oat, corn, GRAIN FOOD AND GRAIN-FREE FOOD FOR THEIR DIET. G rain vs . A gr ain- b ase d diet rice and wheat – and they contain INFORMATIONWHEN CHOOSING BETWEEN

The end of the last ice age. That’s how long scientific analysis using dog DNA has revealed it has been since the first dogs were domesticated. Over those 10,000 years, dogs have eaten – and evolved to digest – lots of different types of food that humans grow and consume, including grains. “Dogs can tolerate grains, and there are real benefits to some of the components of grains, such as fibre and prebiotics,” says Ivory Coat vet, Dr Angus Hayes. Choosing what your dog eats is a crucial part of their day-to-day life. Ultimately, it will contribute to their health and lifespan. Grain-based or grain-free diets each have their own benefits and drawbacks. Here’s what to consider.

REFINED GRAINS are the unhealthier of the 2, due to processing that strips away most of their nutrition and fibre. Barley, oat, millet, quinoa, buckwheat, teff and amaranth all fall into the unrefined or whole grain category. They all contain essential nutrients for long-term dog health. These grains can help contribute essential fatty acids and vitamins (including B1, B2, B3, B9 and E) to your pet’s diet. This helps with breaking down carbohydrates, providing energy and maintaining skin and coat health. Whole grains are a great source of protein and contain many of the essential minerals that dogs need in their diet. These include iron, which aids in many bodily functions; and magnesium, which aids in normal nerve and muscle function. Another way grains can help your dog’s diet is by making your dog feel full, reducing opportunities for overeating. Plus, the high fibre content helps ensure regular and consistent bowel movements.

multiple nutritional benefits. There are 2 types of grain: unrefined and refined. UNREFINED GRAINS are lightly processed. Also known as ‘whole grains’, they’re a better option for a dog’s diet, as they retain the entirety of the grain after processing.


A g rain- free diet

“Generally, grain-free diets have reduced the amount of cheap carbohydrates in the diet and improved the quality proteins,” says Dr Hayes. It’s uncommon for dogs to have allergies to grains, but for those that do, grain-free food is a popular alternative. Pets who have food sensitivities are typically unable to tolerate the protein component of a

Grain-free diets are also an option, and can add nutritional benefits that could help your pet’s dietary health. Grain-free is exactly that; it doesn’t contain refined grains such as corn, wheat and soy. Instead, it utilises

specific meat species, or, less commonly, grains in the diet. “By removing some of the possible allergens of common meat proteins and grains, some dogs can experience real benefits to their gut health,” says Dr Hayes. Signs your pet may not be able to tolerate eating something in their diet can include itchiness or constant licking and biting at their skin, rashes, frequent vomiting, diarrhoea or gas. As these symptoms can also accompany other health issues, it is always best to speak with your vet, as they are in the best position to determine what could be causing these problems and work out if any problems could

vegetable sources, such as legumes and potatoes, as alternative carbohydrate sources. G rai n


be related to what your pet is eating.

Which is better for your dog?

As there’s currently no concrete evidence to suggest that dogs necessarily need grains in their diet, the decision about whether to feed your dog grain or grain-free food comes down to what works best for their individual needs. The question to ask yourself is: what does your dog benefit frommost? When selecting a formula for your dog, what matters most is selecting a complete and balanced food choice for your dog’s lifestyle and life stage that utilises high-quality, natural ingredients.

When choosing between a grain and grain-free diet, there’s no one rule that suits all – what matters is making the right decision for your dog. While it’s true that dogs and their natural diet are descended from wolves, it’s also true that domesticating them has altered what they can eat. T he R e s u lt


Catify your home

Cats are descended from the territorial Near Eastern wildcat, and need to sense that ‘this space is mine’ to feel confident. They love to climb and explore elevated surfaces, claiming them, and what’s below, as their own. Fulfil their natural need to climb by designing spaces where they can move around without the need to touch the ground. That means cat perches, window beds and cat towers.

Going up

Scratch match Another cat instinct is scratching to leave their

scent and mark their area. Cats generally prefer to scratch

By nature, cats are

something tall, sturdy and covered in a stiff fibre like sisal or jute. Satisfy this need with a designated scratching post or cat tree. This also helps to protect your home, furniture, rugs and carpets, from inappropriate scratching.

independent and curious, not to mention territorial. And their homes need to reflect their needs for security as well as their innate instincts to hunt, stalk and play – so much so that creating such a space has been coined ‘catification’ by cat behaviourist Jackson Galaxy. The added benefit is helping to minimise behavioural

You snooze, you win

On average, your cat sleeps 12–16 hours per day. A space to rest with a clean, cosy bed is necessary and gives your cat choices – and thereby, a sense of control and calm. Noticed how your cat will retreat to a shelf or cupboard? A cat’s ability to easily hide and feel secure also reduces stress. This is an evolutionary by product, as hiding means safety from danger and an advantage in an ambush when hunting.

Hunt high and low

Your cat’s home needs to stimulate their senses and hunting instincts. To mentally challenge your cat and get them moving, use puzzles that mimic the way they hunt ground prey, with scooping, clawing and biting actions.

Air prey toys, such as fishing rods and wand toys, mimic the movement of a bird. Once your cat successfully ‘catches’ their prey, wiggle it around in their paws or mouth to mark the end of the hunt.

problems, stress and anxiety.


Your pet’s daily calorie needs depend on how active they are, their size, health and their age. It’s recommended dogs get 2 solid exercise sessions per week, on top of a daily walk. Cats need 30 minutes of active play every day. Before you start counting calories, consult a vet or use an online tool to estimate the ideal average daily intake for your pet. And beware: fewer calories does not always equal healthier, even when the goal is weight loss. Find out more at: PH Why is hydration so important to pets and how do you know if your pet is dehydrated? AH The principles of hydration are the same in pets as they are in people. When the body is hydrated, there is better flushing of the by-products out of the body, and the flow of blood improves organ function. Our pets rarely tell us how they are feeling. But severely dehydrated pets will often have a ‘skin tent’ that is slow to drop back into position when you lift it up. Their eyes may be sunken and they will generally be weak and lethargic. For cats, you can also monitor how many wet patches there are daily in their kitty litter. For dogs, monitor how long and how frequently they urinate for during walks or when they wake up in the morning. Around 50–60 millilitres of water per kilogram of body weight is what dogs and cats need each day. But water isn’t the only way pets can stay hydrated. Try wet pet foods, such as canned meals or frozen portions, adding water to soften kibble, or feeding vet-approved human foods to increase hydration.

PH What are some good strategies for creating healthy boundaries with your pet? AH All pets are part of the pack and it is important for our pets to recognise their place in our family group. Creating boundaries for eating, sleeping and walking will help your pet understand what is acceptable and what is not. Not feeding your dog at the table, ensuring your dog waits for you or your command to walk through a door and getting them to sleep in their own secure area will help them know what is acceptable. Some people enjoy their pets sleeping in their beds or sitting on the couch with them, and this is not a wrong thing to do, but there are consequences. If certain behaviours have been occurring for a long time, you may need to start with little steps, such as making your dog sleep beside the bed (rather than on it) for a while, rather than just locking them outside all of a sudden. monitoring a pet’s weight? AH Pets need energy for day-to-day activity, to regulate body temperature, perform metabolic work and keep the digestive system pumping. So, calories are not inherently bad for your pet. In fact, they are a crucial energy source. PH How important is counting calories in

Forget Dr Google, we put

your most commonly asked pet questions to Ivory Coat’s vet, Dr Angus Hayes.


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