As you resolve to eat healthier, lose 20 pounds or watch less TV this New Year’s Day, don’t forget about your pet. Our cats and dogs do a lot to improve our mental and physical health; in return, we can do more to enrich their lives. And there’s no better time to start than right now.
Here are eight resolutions to help make 2018 your pet’s best year yet. Which of these resolutions will you be making for your pet’s sake? Let us know on our Facebook page!
- Take your pet to see the veterinarian at least once this year.
Routine exams save lives, which makes this resolution the most important one you can make. If you’ve been putting off scheduling your cat’s or dog’s next checkup, stop procrastinating! Not only will your pet’s doctor make sure your furry friend is up to date on important vaccinations and parasite treatments, but they can also detect early signs of serious health conditions like kidney or liver disease.
- Schedule (more) playtime into your routine.
With more than 50 percent of U.S. dogs and cats considered overweight or obese, there’s no better time to commit to getting more activity. Moving more can help you both lose weight, if needed, and alleviate boredom for your pet. Maybe that means taking an added walk during the week, tacking an extra five minutes a day onto your dog’s walk or increasing the amount of time you play laser tag with your kitty — you and your pet decide what’s best for the two of you.
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- Get serious about your pet’s dental health.
According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, over 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats have gum disease by the time they’re 3 years old. Daily brushing is the best way to help control tartar and plaque, prevent dental (periodontal) disease and protect your pet’s overall health. If you haven’t brushed your pet’s teeth before, daily brushing may seem overwhelming. Start slowly and gradually increase your “brushing” sessions. Your veterinarian or veterinary technician can show you how best to brush your pet’s teeth, so be sure to ask!
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- Groom your pet daily.
Brushing your dog or cat has several purposes:
- Removes excess fur from the coat
- Helps distribute oils from the skin to the coat
- Shows your pet how much you care
Don’t forget to check your pet’s nails, too, and trim them as needed.
- Start a pet savings fund or buy pet insurance.
A pet health emergency can happen at any time. If you don’t have an emergency fund or pet insurance, will you be able to afford needed medical care? According to Nationwide, pet owners say they want to be prepared for the unexpected. Having a special savings account just for future pet-related expenses or pet health insurance can help ensure you won’t need to compromise when it comes to getting your pet the treatment she needs.
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- Teach your pet something new.
Who says old dogs can’t learn new tricks? Studies show mental stimulation can help keep your senior pet’s brain active and healthy. So this year, commit to teaching your dog something new while brushing up on commands and tricks they already know. And for cats? Puzzle feeders, which require your cat to think through a task to get her food or treat, are a great way to get kitty thinking and even moving.
- Reevaluate and revamp your pet’s diet and feeding habits.
Just like we may need to improve the quality of our diet, our pets’ food and eating routine may benefit from healthy adjustments too. Resolutions to improve your pet’s diet may be as simple as sticking to a good quality dry food or as challenging as measuring your pet’s food every time you feed him. Do you need to resolve to feed fewer table scraps? Consider swapping in a healthier option. Or better yet, skip the food treat and reward your pet by spending extra time together.
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- Update your pet’s identification information.
During the year, a lot can change for us and our pets. We move, get a new phone number, change veterinary clinics — and then forget to update our pets’ identification or registration. If your contact information — or your emergency contact’s information — has changed, don’t wait to update your pet’s tag and microchip information. You never know when your pet may get lost.