Purina Better With Pets Summit Comes to Brooklyn!

better with petsbetter with pets

The Purina Better With Pets Summit took place at the Brooklyn Expo yesterday. With the theme of the emotional wellness of pets and their owners, the day's panels focused on one singular theme: life is simply better with our pets in it!

Animal experts, including Jayne Vitale, a child development expert and director of the Mutt-i-grees® Curriculum, a social and emotional learning (SEL) program designed to teach empathy as a skill to adolescents, Ilana Resiner, a veterinarian and behaviorist, Charley Bednarsh, Director of Children's Services and Pet Partner Therapy. 

Vitale kicked off a panel conversation by discussing the simple power of words. How we use them as a society affects how our dogs are treated, so we have switched from mutts to muttigrees. We have moved away from being the dog's master and settled into being a dog's owner or even parent. 

better with pets
Dr. Marty Becker
The day-long event, hosted by Emmy-nominated comedian and writer, Josh Gondelman, combined leading animal expert discussions with Q&A sessions and interactive exhibits which showcased ways to help calm your pet as well as demonstrations that showed the stress response join dogs and cats.The day opened up with Purina senior research nutritionist Arleigh Reynolds, who has researched the dog and human bond for many years in Alaska, "Humans are hardwired to share their lives with dogs." The day was capped off with author, reality television personality, Carole Radziwill as the keynote speaker, discussing how animals have impacted her life.

A panel on "Stress, Our Pets, and Us", was moderated by Dr. Marty Becker, whom many of you may know from his countless articles on Vet Street. This discussion outlined the ways that we affect our pet's stress levels and vice versa, along with ways to calm them. Lighting for example, is an easy way to help soothe anxious pets.
After all, none of really enjoy being in  glaring, fluorescent lighting, so neither do our dogs. In addition, our dogs'  ears are so super sensitive that any noise that we might find distressing, affects them even more. We can help our dogs by paying attention and instituting small but subtle changes being mad in several clinics and shelters around the country: use LED lighting, play low, calming music and always speak to them in a positive and calm tone.  "Dogs have emotions," said Dr. Becker. "It's real." Dogs are incredibly super social and intuitive creatures and they pick up on our stress levels, so when we are stressed, so are they. If we are OK with an event, they will be too, and if we are not, neither will they. 
better with pets
In another panel, "Raising Pets and Kids," Charley Bednarsh shared an incredible story of her dog, 5-year-old Labradoodle named Paz, who is a certified Pet Partner therapy dog. Paz recently became the first dog in history to accompany a victim into a courtroom as she testified against her assailant who held her and her daughter captive for five months. Through the comfort provided by Paz, the victim was able to testify.

"The Purina Better With Pets Summit has become a platform where the best and the brightest in the industry meet and discuss how pets and people are better together," said Nina Leigh Krueger, Chief Marketing Officer for Nestle Purina PetCare. 

"This year, we not only explored emotional wellness across three expert panels, but attendees had access to one-of-a-kind interactive exhibits where they experienced first-hand ways to improve pet wellness."

better with pets
Five interactive exhibits allowed attendees to learn more. A cat room showcased an ideal healthy environment for cats. Another exhibit showed how an owner's stress measured up to a dog's stress through the use of wearable technology. Touchscreen displays taught us how to create an at home environment that our pets can thrive in. The exhibit above is a play lab for agility dogs. All the dogs were eager to show us their stuff, happily jumping and running through various agility test set-ups.

better with pets

Other exhibits outlined the massive impact nutrition plays in the health and wellness of your pet. Service dogs were on hand showing their skills. This adorable black lab (who is a dead ringer for my Django) works with the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind.

better with pets
Purina experts were on hand to discuss their many contributions, which are vast. What many dog owners might not realize is that Purina supports over 900 pet welfare organizations each year. Yesterday, Purina committed to  donating $50,000 to The Frank Attla Youth Program, which helps at-risk youth in rural Alaska gain empathy, confidence and self-esteem simply by adding dogs into the school curriculum.

It was a glorious day to celebrate the dogs (and cats) in our lives. I love the fact that we are finally recognizing our pets for the amazing, complex, and special beings they are.  I can't imagine my life without my pets. I'd like to thank Purina for all the work they do to help improve the lives of animals, and all the experts for sharing there knowledge!

To learn more, visit Better With Pets.

Photo credits: Amanda Sullivan 

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