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Petsmile's Happy Healthy Pet Blog

4 Ways That Pets Can Positively Impact Your Mental Health

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Ever notice how pet owners just seem to have a little more pep in their step? That’s because our pets provide us with a slew of mental health benefits—from combating loneliness to increasing mood boosting chemicals in our brain, pets have a pretty powerful effect on humans.

And the evidence is not purely anecdotal—scientific studies have proven time and time again that owning or interacting with an animal (literally, any kind of animal) will make a tangible difference in your life. That’s why animals are such a popular choice for therapy programs in hospitals, schools, and more.  

So whether you find yourself struggling with loneliness and depression, or you just want a trusted companion by your side, a pet might be the perfect way to get yourself back on track. Here are the top 4 ways pets can benefit and improve our mental health.

1. Pets Give Us Structure, Routine, And Responsibility 

Ever felt like you just couldn’t get out of bed? Well, if you’ve ever been greeted by a wagging tail or a wet nose first thing in the morning, you don’t really have that option—and that’s a good thing!

One of the biggest benefits of pet ownership is that our animals give us a sense of purpose every single day. Without a pet, it’s much easier to rationalize sleeping in or postponing your daily chores—especially if you suffer from anxiety or depression.

However, our pets never stop needing us; regardless of what’s going on in our personal lives, the furry members of the family still need walks, clean litter boxes, and a good brushing with Petsmile toothpaste (of course).

And yes, even the simplest tasks like feeding or walking your pet can instantly boost your mood. A quick walk with your dog has been shown to lower stress hormones and ease the symptoms of depression.  

The responsibility of pet ownership isn’t just great for adults, it also teaches valuable lessons to adolescents—studies have shown that children who grow up with a pet in the household develop the soft skills to become patient and empathetic adults. Owning a pet is a powerful way to boost their confidence, create more structure in their day, and build a sense of self-worth over time.  

In essence, taking care of a pet really helps us take care of ourselves, and that’s an important lesson for us to learn at any age. 

2. Pets Help Us Socialize And Make New Friends 

‘How do you even have that many friends?’ is something you might be muttering to yourself as you scroll past the 6th group brunch photo in your Instagram feed, but trust us, making friends as an adult is not easy.

As we age, it becomes more difficult to meet people in similar life stages as our own. We also don’t have built-in opportunities to meet like-minded individuals like we may have in grade school or college—this leads to scarce opportunities to make friends, and as a result, many adults have dwindling social circles.

Oddly enough, you’re not alone in feeling alone; 3 out of 5 adult Americans report that they are lonely, and as you can guess, loneliness and isolation are strong precursors to developing anxiety or depression. Studies have indicated that a strong social circle leads to improved mental health and a better quality of life, so finding your people is incredibly important.

So, where do pets fit into this? Not only do our pets fulfill our immediate need for companionship, but they also give us a natural opportunity to be social and meet new people—because hey, we need some human friends too. 

In this particular study, it was discovered that pet owners were 60% more likely to become friends with their neighbors than non-pet owners, and participants credited their pets as one of the top three ways they had managed to forge new friendships.  

And according to researchers, animals of all kinds can help us create lasting human to human friendships. Some respondents in the study stated that their pet rabbit, or even their pet snake had helped them make friends!

Here are just a few ways your pets might be able to help you make new social connections: 

  • A walk in the park with your pet can lead to fellow animal lovers introducing themselves, or even a few compliments from some admirers.
  • Finding a playmate for your pet can help you make friends too. If your dog really gets along with a particular dog at the dog park, be sure to introduce yourself to their owner!
  • Look for natural social opportunities when you’re out with your pet. Perhaps a trip to the veterinarian, the groomer, or your pet’s day care center could lead to new connections.
  • Looking for a conversation starter? Show your coworkers or neighbors some cute pictures of your pet—it’s something we can all enjoy.

3.Pets Help Us Develop A Stronger Connection With Nature

For many of us, our days revolve around screens—from zoom calls to emails, it can be difficult to find the time to get away from technology. Being inundated with technology can have some pretty adverse side effects, with about one third of people working in tech claiming to be depressed.

Unfortunately, spending less time in green spaces is becoming increasingly common, and it’s detrimental to our mental health. Losing our connection to nature can exacerbate symptoms of depression and other mood disorders.

Thankfully, having a pet can help us reconnect with nature in a big way. Animals are a powerful motivator to get outdoors and spend some time away from our screens, because animals need the outdoors just as much as we do.

And even if it seems insignificant at first, this added time outdoors can quickly add up—according to The New York Times, dog owners spend about 200 more minutes outside each week (and they’re the better for it). And even if you don’t currently have a pet, picking up a simple hobby like feeding local birds or ducks can give you that outdoor time that’s necessary for a balanced mindset.

When it comes to getting outdoors, get creative! Seek out local hiking trails, beaches, or parks where you and your pets can thrive. With daily nature walks incorporated into your routine, your mood is bound to improve.

4. Pets Fulfill Our Biological Need For Touch

Throughout the pandemic, we’ve been deprived of human interaction and touch, which comes with some pretty adverse consequences.

This phenomenon has been referred to as “touch starvation,” because the drastic turn from regular human interaction to nearly none at all can feel incredibly devastating. Touch starvation can feel so severe, that it’s even been compared to how it actually feels to be hungry for food.

While we may not always think about how important touch can be for mental health, a loving embrace or pat on the back can make a huge difference in your mood. People that are touch starved can expect to be sleeping less, have higher feelings of anxiety, and less motivation—without regular human touch, things can get pretty lonely.

It’s no wonder that adoptions shot up dramatically at the height of the pandemic, because animals easily fulfill that basic need for comfort and touch. In a small sample study, 90% of people interviewed stated that touching their pets immediately comforted and calmed them.

Another study conducted at a university showed that college students experienced huge benefits from petting animals—after just 10 minutes petting dogs and cats, their cortisol levels dropped. A separate study found that 15 minutes of petting a dog could reduce your blood pressure by 10%.

These tangible results show that touch is a powerful tool for creating a sense of calm and ease in humans, which is incredible news for those suffering from stress and mental health issues.

So if you live alone, or you just find yourself feeling down, adopting a pet can be a great way to fulfill those basic needs. We all deserve to feel comforted and loved, and our pets certainly love the attention in return.

Keep Your Pets Healthy With Petsmile

Pets are truly a treasure—our animals fulfill so many of our basic mental health needs, but it’s even more important to ask whether we are fulfilling their needs too. While we may be showering our pets with love, food, and attention, oftentimes that’s not enough to keep them at their healthiest.

Only a small percentage of pet owners brush their pet’s teeth (8% for dogs, 4% for cats), which means your pet is likely to experience premature tooth decay and a drastically shortened lifespan. Oral health is one of the most overlooked aspects of pet health, which is why Petsmile strives to bring awareness and safe/affordable products to pet owners.

We hope you’ll consider adding daily brushing to your pet’s routine—and trust us, they’ll find it delicious! To learn more about us, be sure to visit our About Petsmile page or our Instagram.

The Top 5 Ways To Promote The Health And Wellness Of Your Pets

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Every pet owner wants their pet to be at their best—but sometimes, pet owners aren’t fully educated on all the ways they can help their animals live longer, healthier lives. As much as we might love our furry companions, we may be doing things that are detrimental to their health and wellness without realizing it. 

Luckily, the ways in which we can prolong and improve the lives of our pets are fairly simple! Even better, getting your pets into a healthier lifestyle not only helps them live longer, but it can also help you feel better in the long run. 

According to the CDC, owning a pet can decrease your blood pressure, promote weight loss, and mitigate feelings of loneliness—not to mention, pet ownership gives you a great opportunity to go out and socialize with others. 

So, to thank our pets for all they do for us, we compiled a list of the top 5 things you should be doing to ensure their overall health and wellness—and maybe you can take away a few pointers for yourself too!

1. Feed Them High-Quality Ingredients And
Use The Correct Portions

When it comes to feeding our pets, the issue is twofold: pets are usually getting too much food, and they’re usually not getting the right food.

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, up to 60% percent of pets are overweight or obese. All of this extra weight severely impacts their quality of life; you can expect to see arthritis, hypertension, and diabetes in overweight pets, leading to costly vet bills and a shortened lifespan. 

So, what can you do to prevent this? The first step in addressing animal obesity is to feed your pet high-quality food with healthy ingredients in the correct portions.  

If you’re not sure where to start, it’s best to consult your veterinarian. They’ll take your pet’s age and size into account before recommending food that covers the essential nutrients your pet needs. And if your pet has any underlying health issues—such as diabetes or allergies—your veterinarian can make specific recommendations based on your pet’s unique needs. 

In general, here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to purchasing food for your pet: 

  • Check the food label—you want to ensure your pet’s food has a healthy protein such as salmon, turkey, or chicken listed as one of the top ingredients
  • Avoid food that is disproportionately made up of fillers like wheat, corn, and soy 
  • Purchase high-quality food that exceeds the standards of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO)
  • Follow the feeding instructions on the bag—doling out the correct portions based on your pet’s size is the key to maintaining a healthy weight
  • Tailor your pet’s diet to their specific health needs with the help of your veterinarian 

And if you’re going to give your pets table scraps (we get it, it’s hard to resist those eyes), at least make it healthy! Meats, rice, and fruits/vegetables are a healthy snack to give your pets in moderation. This list breaks down safe human foods for cats, and one for dogs as well. 

If you ever have any questions or concerns about what is safe to feed your pets, it’s always best to consult your veterinarian first. 

2. Get Daily Exercise With Your Pets

As we already mentioned, pet obesity is a huge problem, and it’s primarily caused by poor diet and lack of exercise. So, just because you switched your pet to a higher quality food doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods quite yet! You still need to make sure your pet is getting enough exercise to burn off extra energy and calories. 

However, it’s important to note that the benefit of exercise isn’t just physical—this daily routine gives your pet a much needed mental workout too. Without consistent daily exercise, your pets may develop mood disorders and destructive behaviors—so exercise is definitely saving your furniture too. 

Cats and dogs need different things when it comes to exercise and active play, so keep that in mind as you plan your daily routine. Generally speaking, dogs are more keen on being physically active for longer periods of time, whereas cats like to display their agility and prowess in smaller bursts.

Dogs generally need at least 60 minutes of active walking and/or running per day. Depending on their age and breed, your dog may need more or less activity to stay happy and healthy. Do some research on your breed and see what kind of activities they tend to enjoy. 

As for cats, they need you to activate their hunting instincts. Unlike dogs, cats are active in small bursts, so carving out 10-15 minute increments of playtime a few times a day is a great way to keep them active and engaged. You can also try cat exercise wheels, or if you’re feeling adventurous, you can harness train your cats for outdoor adventures. 

Like we said, the benefits of exercise are more than just physical, so here are some things you can expect to see from exercising your pets on a daily basis:

  • An enhanced bond between you and your pet
  • Reduced anxiety and boredom 
  • More structure and routine 
  • Less unwanted and destructive behaviors 

3. Provide Your Pets With Engaging Toys And Stimuli 

As much as we might like to, we can’t be with our pets every moment of the day, so it’s important to ensure that their environment at home is full of enriching toys and activities to keep them occupied while you’re away. 

Mental stimulation is essential for their overall health, and leaving a pet alone without meaningful stimuli can be detrimental to their overall well-being. 

For cats, they need lots of areas to hide, climb, and survey their surroundings—just like they would do in the wild. Cat trees and shelves will allow your cat to feel safe and secure as they act on their hunting instincts. You should also leave out plenty of toys they can play with on their own while you’re away—anything infused with catnip can’t hurt. 

As for dogs, treat toys and puzzle toys are a great way to keep them mentally sharp when you’re not around. Redirecting their attention on a new task will keep their separation anxiety at bay, and the challenge/reward aspect will keep them occupied for hours.

Pro Tip: 

The only thing better than toys is a tired pet, so this is where exercise can be a huge benefit too! Make sure your pets have been thoroughly exercised before you leave the house for a few hours, and you can be certain that they won’t miss you too much while you’re gone. 

4. Visit Your Veterinarian At Least Twice A Year 

If you’re only taking your pets to the vet when it seems like something is wrong, then you may be putting their health at risk—by the time you notice an issue, it could be too severe to fully treat or correct. 

Prevention is the key to keeping your pets healthy, so semi-annual check ups with your veterinarian are crucial to protecting your pet’s health and wellness. Animals oftentimes hide their illnesses, so getting them to the vet (even when they seem healthy) can prevent underlying diseases and conditions from becoming more severe. 

At these check ups, you’ll not only get the essential vaccinations and shots that your pet needs, but your vet will perform a thorough physical exam to check for any conditions that might be missed upon first glance. 

During your semi-annual visits, be sure to mention any changes you may have noticed in your pet, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem. For example, if your pet is drinking more water than usual, that could potentially be a sign of diabetes. Any information you can provide to your veterinarian is helpful in diagnosing potential illnesses. 

5. Brush Your Pet’s Teeth Every Day 

Would it be a Petsmile blog if we didn’t talk about this? We think not!

One of the most routinely overlooked aspects of pet health is their oral health. Most pets will show some signs of periodontal disease by the time they are 3 years old, which could easily be avoided with proper at-home dental care. Just like exercise or a healthy diet, brushing your pet’s teeth at least once a day can prevent a slew of health issues.

It’s important to understand how oral health impacts the rest of the body—when you don’t brush your pet’s teeth, you’re not just putting their teeth and gums at risk, but you’re compromising their overall health. Periodontal disease can be absorbed into your dog’s bloodstream, meaning that their internal organs (such as the kidney and liver) can suffer serious, irreversible damage. 

Luckily, Petsmile has a line of pet safe products to combat the tartar, plaque, and bad breath that plagues your pet! We’ve dedicated our time to creating tasty, healthy products that are approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC), so you can use our products knowing that they are both safe and delicious.

In addition to brushing at home every day, you should schedule regular dental cleanings with your veterinarian. These comprehensive dental cleanings allow your veterinarian a chance to safely assess your pet’s overall oral health. 

And while a new habit might be hard to adopt, studies show that brushing every day can help your pet live 3-5 more healthy years, so we think that’s a great reason to start right now (even if your pet doesn’t think so at first). 

We hope these tips help you and your pets live longer, happier, and healthier lives! Let us know what you do to keep your pets healthy, and be sure to follow us on social media to get more healthy and happy pet tips from Petsmile. 

How to Make Toothbrush Time A Breeze

How to Make Toothbrush Time A Breeze

We love giving the gift of healthy teeth and gums to pets, and seeing firsthand how our products enrich and improve their lives. By using Petsmile just once a day, your dog or cat could live an additional 3-5 healthy years. We think that’s something to get excited about—and a good reason to start brushing today.

While we understand adopting a new habit can be challenging, we have science and veterinary dentists on our side; Petsmile is the first toothpaste to be approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC), meaning that this product is a must-have for healthy pets. This seal of approval indicates that Petsmile is safe, effective, and of superior quality—take it from us, getting this seal of approval is not easy! 

But enough about us; February is all about your pet’s dental health, so we want to discuss a few ways you can improve toothbrush time for your pets. We believe that brushing your pet’s teeth doesn’t have to be a chore, and if you approach it with a new mindset, this can easily become your pet’s favorite part of the day.

So, whether you’re a first time brusher, or you’ve been brushing your pet’s teeth for years, these tips will help you take toothbrush time to the next level.

Playtime and Exercise

Exercise and enriching play is essential for the happiness of animals, so make sure your pet is getting the recommended amount of exercise every single day. Not only is exercise good for their body, it’s good for their mind too. Cats and dogs that don’t get enough exercise and stimulation are prone to developing depression, obesity, and behavioral problems.

So, what does this have to do with brushing their teeth? An animal that is stressed or anxious will not be as receptive to getting their teeth brushed—and lack of exercise can be a culprit. We recommend that your pet get some exercise a few hours before you brush their teeth, as this can relieve any excess energy or pent up anxiety your pet may have (and get rid of those zoomies).

If you’re looking for some creative ideas to get your pets moving, check out these tips on different exercises you can do for cats and dogs.


While there is limited research on exactly how massage benefits our pets, veterinarians still highly recommend it—and your pets will certainly enjoy it.

In addition to relieving muscle aches and inflammation, it’s believed that massage can reduce anxiety in our pets—so, it certainly can’t hurt to give your pet a massage before a brushing session. Brushing your pet’s teeth can be a stressful experience for them the first few times, so reducing their anxiety beforehand is going to be incredibly helpful in this process.

When your animal is calm, see if they are receptive to a massage. Use gentle strokes, and allow your pet’s body language to tell you how to proceed—no need to do anything fancy or use any tools, your hands and a gentle yet firm touch should be enough to get the circulation flowing and help them relax. 

A good massage will build trust between you and your animal, and help them associate toothbrush time with relaxation.

Choose a Relaxing Environment

The environment you choose to brush your pet’s teeth in is important; if you take them to an unfamiliar place, or put them in an uncomfortable position, you’re going to heighten their anxiety (and trust us, it’ll be impossible to get them to cooperate).

If possible, have them sit in your lap or in the lap of a helper. Set them up near their favorite toys, their bed, or a place they associate with safety. We definitely don’t recommend trying this out in the bathroom or in the bathtub—they probably haven’t forgotten the last time you tried to give them a bath. A familiar, comfortable, and inviting place should help them stay relaxed.

Soothing sounds can also be a great way to help your pets stay zen. Studies have shown that music is a great way to relax your pets, and apparently, dogs prefer reggae music. Try out some different tunes and see what your pet enjoys!

Treats and Praise

While we like to think of Petsmile toothpaste as a tasty treat, you may need to entice your pets the first few times to get them on board. Despite what you may think, using treats during toothbrush time is definitely okay, and it’s encouraged!

You don’t have to worry about treats counteracting the benefits of Petsmile’s toothpaste—our proprietary formula Calprox gently dissolves plaque and build up, so a few treats are not going to have any negative impact on the cleanliness of your pet’s teeth.

Remember, positive reinforcement and positive stimuli are the best way to get your dog acclimated to this new process. If you get frustrated, just give them praise, a few treats, and try again later. Negative reactions will only slow down your progress.

Start Slow

Easing your pet into new habits is incredibly important, so for first timers, it’s important to start slow. You can’t expect your pet to be perfectly ok with having a toothbrush in their mouth on day one, as it’s a process that can take days or weeks.

Remember potty training? That certainly didn’t happen overnight, and brushing their teeth will take some time.

Allow your pet to sniff, touch, and become acquainted with the brush before trying to brush their teeth. For the first few sessions, we recommend letting your pet lick the toothpaste off the brush, rather than trying to insert the toothbrush into their mouth.

The important thing is to go at your pet’s pace, and not rush them into it.

Stick to a Routine

Our pets thrive when we give them comfort and routine—that’s why it’s a good idea to find a time that works for you. We recommend brushing their teeth at the same time every day, so there are no surprises.

Preferably, you should brush sometime after their final meal of the day, but if this isn’t possible, it’s just important to set aside some time to make sure their teeth are brushed every single day. Find a time that works for you.

Sticking to a routine also makes it more likely that you will brush their teeth every single day, and for the health of your pets, this is what’s most important.

Brushing Techniques and Best Practices

Now that your pet is relaxed and thoroughly pampered, it’s time to perfect your brushing techniques! We have an in-depth dental guide you can download, but here are the basic tips you need to know for proper every day dental care:

  1. Put a pea sized amount of our toothpaste on your Petsmile toothbrush, cotton swab, or finger brush. In this case, less is more. You don’t need a ton of toothpaste for it to be effective—in fact, 2 tubes of our toothpaste should last you for an entire year!
  2. Brush at a 45 degree angle, using circular motions, ensuring that you’re hitting each tooth’s surface and the gum line.
  3. Work in sections. Start on one side, and work your way around until you hit every single tooth—yes, it really matters! You can break this up throughout the day, if necessary.
  4. Your pet’s teeth have grooves and ridges; make sure you’re getting into every nook and cranny for maximum benefit. Don’t neglect the molars in the back, as this is where you’re likely to find build up.
  5. Allow your pet to do the work. Their licking will continue to spread the toothpaste, ensuring they get a good coating throughout their teeth and gums.
  6. Praise your pet throughout the entire process, and use your most tempting treats. During training, it’s important to get them to associate the toothbrush with good things. You can start to phase out the treats once they are adjusted. 

That’s it! We hope you find this guide helpful, and that your pets are feeling incredibly zen after you put all of those relaxation tips into practice. Be sure to check out our Instragram page this month to learn more about Pet Dental Month, and how to keep your pets healthy and happy year round.