Students participate in virtual pet care learning

Hundreds of students can now answer questions that may stump their parents about pet care, thanks to a series of virtual chats by the Pet Food Institute (PFI).

The Washington, DC-based trade association’s Bahamian representatives took to Zoom to share information with students at Queen’s College as part of a new virtual series of campus visits.

“The kids were amazing,” said PFI representative Hope Sealey, whose talk focused on understanding which foods were safe or unsafe for domestic animals. “Even the little ones asked the most sensible questions, such as ‘If raisins are good for me, why can’t I give them to my dog?’ It’s questions like that which make you realize how serious youngsters are about looking after their pet’s health.”

Some 400 students in four primary school grades took part in the virtual lecture. They participated in interactive sessions and were tested on information presented in entertaining and informative short videos.

“During a normal year, we visit schools in person accompanied by a dog or cat, and the kids love it,” said Sealey. “With the pandemic, there were no dog shows or other public events, learning was virtual and we had to get creative. We realized we could do our furry friends a favor by sharing the information about what is safe or unsafe in a virtual world.”

PFI publishes a list of foods to avoid giving pets including chocolate, onions, avocados, grapes and raisins, nutmeg, macadamia nuts and alcohol.

“The biggest misconception and one we always try to correct is that it is OK to give your dog a bone – any bone. But cooked bones in particular can be extremely dangerous for dogs and could even lead to death. We show images of what a cooked bone can do, how it can damage the spleen or cause digestive problems, even splinter and cause internal bleeding and, in the worst-case scenarios, choking,” said Sealey. “The kids wanted to know things like, what is inside grapes and raisins that make them bad for dogs and cats? Are milk and cheese bad for cats and dogs? Are all bones bad for dogs? If some human foods make animals sick, how come they don’t make us sick?”

PFI also stresses the danger of feeding pets table scraps. “Commercially available dog and cat food is specifically made to contain special nutrition that pets need,” said Sealey. “If your pet is like family, treat them like family and give them only safe foods made for pets. That is our best advice.”

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