Many of us understand the habits for living a healthy lifestyle: exercise, fruits and veggies, sleep and socialization. These concepts have been drilled into us since elementary school. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), though, there’s another habit that may lead to a healthier life – owning a pet.
As stated on the CDC’s website, the health benefits of owning a pet include the decrease of “blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels and feelings of loneliness,” in addition to increasing opportunities for “exercise and outdoors activities” and “socialization.” As many pet owners will tell you, nothing wipes away a day’s woes like the welcoming face of a pet.
But the bond between owner and pet goes deeper than health benefits. Pets become family, their pictures hanging on walls or hidden in wallets. We name them, love them, and cuddle with them for comfort, which is why taking care of a pet’s health is as important as taking care of our own health.
Read over the label of your current dog or cat food product. More often than not, the ingredients list includes a meat-based “meal,” a marketing term similar to “processed.” To live a healthy life, pets require natural ingredients, the same as you and me, and numerous Rhode Island companies now cater to selling or creating these kind of gourmet or organic products.
Located in South Kingstown, Johnny’s Barkin’ Bakery specializes in “providing all natural baked treats using the highest quality ingredients.” On the bakery’s website you’ll see the list of ingredients used in making treats, which includes such items as eggs, ginger, honey, peanut butter and cheese. The word “meal” is never mentioned. Although the bakery’s name suggests a bias toward dog owners, the bakery offers a selection of cat treats and products too. These products are not produced on-site, but the bakery’s owner, Alex Miller, claims that cats go absolutely bananas for their freeze-dried Bonito Fish Flakes. The bakery also offers natural vitamins for cat health and hairball control.
In addition, Johnny’s Barkin’ Bakery goes further than merely selling organic treats. Each year the bakery donates 2% of net proceeds to The Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Clearly, they want all dogs to live healthy and happy lives. The bakery also offers a Dog of the Month contest, which invites customers to submit a picture and story about their dog. The winning dog earns their owner a coupon for a free bag of treats.
For individuals with larger pets, such as horses or livestock, your haven for healthy pet foods is Allie’s, located in North Kingstown. Opened in 1978, Allie’s offers a huge selection of horse and livestock food options, and they also sell foods for cats, dogs, fish, birds and rabbits.
“We have a bunch of organic pet food selections,” says Steve Briggs, Jr. “We have organic dog food and treats, gourmet horse treats and we offer a line of organic cat food.” Allie’s does not separate organic and gourmet products from the rest of their selection, so make sure to read over each product’s label. (Side note: finding an excuse to travel to Allie’s isn’t hard, since Allie’s Donuts sits across the street. Those delicious pastries make buying pet food an outstanding weekly event.)
Pet owners seeking high-end gourmet animal food would do well to visit Food for Thought, located in Wakefield. Not only does Food for Thought offer a wide selection of gourmet pet food products, but they also sell natural flea and tick prevention, vitamins for pets and Rescue Remedy for Dogs. (Rescue Remedy for Dogs is a combination of flour essences that help dogs deal with situational anxiety, such as being left alone or encountering new people.)
Food for Thought’s passion for gourmet pet food can be seen in their ingredient lists. For example, nutritional yeast is often found in their dog food products, because it provides a high amount of minerals and vitamins. Moreover, a large amount of their ingredients come from a sustainable source, so as to benefit both pets and the wider human population.
Lastly, Food for Thought strives to provide products high in quality protein, because dogs and cats, though domesticated, thrive on this meat-based nutrient. Unless you have a constant source of fresh meat, though, giving your dog or cat the protein they need can be difficult.
Whether you own a cat, horse or dog, pet ownership promises a unique emotional experience that has the potential to promote all sorts of health benefits. All you have to do is provide them with the same love and care that they offer to you.