The dangers of human wellbeing trends on our pets

Amid an unprecedented year were the nation is actively encouraged to stay home, now more than ever we are turning towards simple everyday pleasures to bring little bursts of happiness.

Whether that’s buying a beautiful bouquet of flowers to brighten a room, lighting soothing scented candles after a long day or winding down with a nice hot bath there are an array of reviving rituals to practice self-care at home.

Wellbeing trends have skyrocketed throughout the pandemic, with sales of house plants reportedly shooting up 500% during the lockdown. Some CBD oil products have also seen a 500% increase as a result of COVID-19, with research suggesting people are purchasing more wellbeing products to ease the stress of our current ‘new normal’.

However, many might not realise the dangers which these trends can bring to our four-legged friends.

Dr Scott Miller, TV Personality and Resident Vet for eco cat litter firm, Natusan said: “With people spending more time than ever at home due to the pandemic, 2020 has seen a huge rise in people becoming pet parents.

“And as we increasingly turn towards our homes to work, relax and socialise – it’s incredibly important that those with pets understand the dangers which certain human wellness products can have on them.”

“During this turbulent time, everyone needs to look after their mental wellbeing – but it’s also crucial that we look after our pets and ensure the environment which they live in is safe and doesn’t put them in harm’s way.”

Dr Scott Miller, TV Personality and Resident Vet for sustainable cat litter, Natusan, shares the important dos and don’ts when it comes to human wellness trends on our pets:

 DON’T keep poisonous house plants in your home – and leave lilies alone 

 House plants can be a wonderful addition to any interior. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing in your pad, but studies also suggest that they improve mental health and help regulate air quality. It can also be very satisfying to nurture something and watch it grow, especially through these tough times.

However, people might not realise there are multiple house plants which cats and dogs are actually allergic to and can be very dangerous to them, with a few of the most common including:

  • Aloe Vera: One of the more popular house plants due to their ability to soothe skin conditions. Although, in animals, Aloe Vera can cause severe vomiting and diarrhoea if ingested, and after all, it’s not uncommon for pets to pounce on plants.
  • Snake plants: A simple plant which doesn’t require too much TLC, however, if your cat or dog get their teeth around one of these – it can cause symptoms of diarrhoea, drooling and vomiting.
  • Alocasia (AKA Elephants Ear): A beautiful, tropical plant – traditionally with heart or arrow shaped leaves. Not so beautiful though if your pet tries to have a chew – as this can lead to irritation and unpleasant burning sensations in the mouth.
  • Lilies: A favourite flower which might make for a beautiful bouquet in the home but lilies are extremely toxic and potentially fatal to cats. In fact, the entire plant is toxic – from the stem to the leaves – and can cause fatal kidney failure in felines. So be sure to steer clear.

There are many more house plants which are harmful to our pets, so always be sure to check the label and do your research before you bring one home. If your pet does consume any poisonous house plant, then seek veterinary advice immediately.

DON’T burn essential oils without checking if they could be harmful to your pet 

Calming essential oils have fast become an aromatherapy favourite, said to release certain chemicals in your body that relax the nervous system.

However, these are quite the opposite of calming for your poor pet… as they can be toxic to cats and dogs if ingested, inhaled or even absorbed through their skin.

Below is a list of popular essential oils which can be dangerous to our animals:

  • Thyme
  • Wintergreen
  • Tea tree (melaleuca)
  • Cinnamon
  • Citrus (d-limonene)
  • Eucalyptus
  • Ylang ylang
  • Sweet birch
  • Pine
  • Clove
  • Peppermint
  • Pennyroyal

Be cautious when it comes to keeping the likes of essential oil diffusers and salt lamps around the house – as symptoms of poisoning in our pets can include retching, irritation and inflammation of the skin, and in severe cases, can even lead to behavioural change, difficulty breathing and seizures.

If you have any concerns that your pet might have come into contact with essential oils and could be suffering with any symptoms – seek immediate help from a vet.

DON’T give your pet CBD oil as an attempt to keep them calm

Cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD, has become increasingly popular in the human world of wellness, with people claiming it can improve anxiety and act as an aid for sleep disorders and depression. However, this does not mean it will have the same effect on our pets.

There is currently no scientific evidence that CBD oil is beneficial to dogs or cats – and it has not been approved by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate. Although, there has been anecdotal evidence of CBD helping with pain management and behaviour, however, without proper scientific evidence, the potential side effects of its use remain unknown.

Also, there are no current CBD products that have been authorised for use in animals in the UK. Legally, only a vet can prescribe a legal human CBD product for your pet.

For all the medication which vets use, pharmaceutical companies must go through rigorous scientific tests to prove that the products actually do what they claim to. But when it comes to nutraceutical supplements, that is not always the case, which makes it extremely difficult for vets to navigate. So until the use of CBD oil on pets is formally proven, it’s best to avoid entirely.

If you do own cannabidiol for personal use – do not administer this to an animal and be sure to keep it well out of reach.

Do utilise pet diffusers to keep your cats and canines calm  

We have already addressed potentially harmful human wellbeing trends on our animals – but what about wellbeing products purposefully designed for our pets which remove the risk of poison and toxicity?

Pet diffusers are a simple solution to help keep your furry friends calm, especially during stressful seasonal situations, such as Halloween and Bonfire Night – which are imminent – where the likes of fireworks and trick or treating can cause anxiety in our animals.

When it comes to cats, pet diffusers work to mimic scent hormones – called pheromones – which felines use to mark their environment. When in the atmosphere, these pheromones make cats feel confident, happy and calm.

With dogs, diffusers also create a calm environment by mimicking the scent exuded from the mammary tissue of canine mums – and work especially well if your dog suffers from separation anxiety or noise phobias.

Do opt for exercise and affection with your furry friends 

Some may overlook the simplicity and benefits which a calm, sensory walk with your pooch can provide. Taking in all the sights, sounds and smells of the park can be very relaxing – whilst also working as a great bonding experience for you both.

We might not head out for a walk with our feline friends, but they love to play, which is an excellent way to raise their heart rate – not to mention burning off any excess pounds put on during lockdown.

It’s also worth noting that both cats and canines are known to enjoy a good grooming session or a nice relaxing stroke following any exercise or play time. As this helps to reassure and calm them after all the excitement.

Simply taking a moment to stroke and offer one-on-one affection to your pet will make their day and help to reduce any stress they might be feeling. It has also been proven to help reduce their heart rates and stress in equal measure – and could be one of the best sources of self-help available to modern day cohabiting humans and pets.

Do try meditation music for your pets 

Mediation has been practised for thousands of years for a range of different reasons – including to help calm the mind, train attention and awareness and to help manage anxiety and depression, to name a few.

Not only can this ancient practice work wonders for humans, but meditative music can help to reduce symptoms of separation anxiety in dogs, as the calming notes can generate a meditative state for them. Again, this can help soothe your dog this Autumn – amid a stressful time of year.

Music is also found to help keep cats calm, especially species-specific music that mimics the tempos and frequencies naturally used for their communications. A perfect time to try this out would be before a visit to the vet – to help your feline feel relaxed and calm any nerves.

Rachel Andre, CEO of sustainable cat litter brand, Natusan adds: “Keeping your pet safe and happy in the home environment is incredibly important – despite these direct dangers though, there are many beneficial practices and approaches to help when it comes to the wellbeing of our pets. Just always be sure to check with your vet or thoroughly read any product labels before giving them a go.

“At Natusan, we always look to help conscious pet parents, from putting together helpful guides, to offering our 100% natural and biodegradable clumping cat litter which is highly absorbent, trapping odour for freshness – whilst also reducing waste.”