Letnick: Take care of yourself, by taking care of Fido

At this month's health forum, April 11, we’re focusing on another member of the household—the beloved pet.

My monthly health forums focus on many different facets of good physical and mental health—helping individuals identify areas of improvement and giving them the tools to make positive changes in their lives. But this month we’re focusing on another member of the household—the beloved pet.

Why, you ask? Because research shows that people are happier and healthier with Fido (or Shadow, or Mr. Winkerbeans) in their life. Common household pets like dogs and cats are happy to see us and spend time with us, and seem to know when we’re down and need that extra cuddle. Their sillier habits also bring out the laughs and encourage humour in the family unit.

Some animals also help us lead more active lives. Dogs are often the ones that get us off the couch for that evening walk or weekend hike. Even those that don’t get out much—fish and hamsters, I’m talking to you—provide educational benefits to younger children interacting with a pet for the first time.

I certainly saw these benefits in my own kids, who grew up with a loyal canine companion as part of our family. Nikki passed away a few years ago after 14 good Sheltie years, bringing a lot of joy to our lives and helping the kids learn the importance of taking care of others.

Indeed, it was a childhood interest in animals that got one of our guest speakers his start. Dr. Eliot Kaplan decided to be a veterinarian at the age of nine years old, after rescuing some baby robins from a cat. After graduating from the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine in 1984, Dr. Kaplan practised in the USA before he and his wife Dr. Linda Walsh worked together to grow Jade Bay Veterinary Services in Oyama. They have operated the Tri-Lake Animal Hospital since 1992.

We’ll also be joined by Suzanne Pugh, branch manager of the Kelowna BC SPCA. Suzanne and her team do a great job protecting and enhancing the quality of life for domestic, farm and wild animals in our community. Recently, I was pleased to join branch representatives in breaking ground on a new large animal seizure facility that will temporarily house farm animals rescued from abusive or neglectful situations. This was made possible by the $5 million our government committed to the BC SPCA in Balanced Budget 2015.

Finally, Lindsay Burton rounds out our list of forum speakers. Lindsay is a grad student at UBC Okanagan who is researching the health benefits of owning pets. I encourage you to come and share your stories!

It can be difficult to stay on top of what’s best for our own personal health and well-being, so knowing what’s good for your pet may seem a little confusing. From regular check-ups to vaccinations and diet, there’s lots to learn—so I encourage you to join us to hear more about how to ensure your furry family members live long and happy lives!

The pet health forum is this Saturday, April 11 from 1-3 p.m. at Creekside Theatre in Lake Country.

For more details and to register for this free event, please visit my website http://normletnickmla.bc.ca/community/upcoming-events.

 

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