New Years Resolutions for Pet Parents
Make this year happier and healthier for you and your pup.
Your pet wants you to read our newsletter. (Then give them a treat.)
Veterinarians love putting together a plan of care for their patients — so why should New Year’s be an exception? The start of a new year is a moment to reflect on the changes you want to make with the goal of self-improvement or, even better, doing good for others like your pup. Here are a few suggestions for — fairly reasonable — resolutions that can make a big improvement for you and your dog.
1. Exercise Mind and Body
Take your dog for more walks and exercise — after all, it is good for both of you. Teach your dog a new trick, polish up an old one or enroll your dog in an activity class — agility, flyball, rally-o, nosework — there are many available.
2. Wellness Checkup
Take your dog for a yearly physical examination at your vet. Break down your dog-related tasks and add a daily, weekly and monthly DIY pup “check-ups” to your calendar — clean your pup’s ears, clip nails, trim fur (where needed), brush teeth, flea combing, and at-home examinations.
3. Keep off the Pounds
Put your pet on a weight-reduction program, especially if they may have overly enjoyed the food from the holiday season. Resolve to prepare more nutritious “homemade” treats for your dog. Adding simple and healthy toppings (like carrots and blueberries) to your dog’s meals is a great introduction to cooking for your pup.
4. Check the Chip
Shelters are able to identify over 70 percent of pets that enter their doors, as long as they are implanted with a microchip and one of the main reasons, they can’t ID the others is because of outdated microchip information. So, make sure your pet’s microchip info is current and registered, and that they wear other forms of identification on a collar at all times.
5. Brush Those Teeth
It’s important to brush your dog’s teeth regularly because oral bacteria can enter your dog’s bloodstream and cause damage to their heart, liver, kidneys, and lungs. If more help is needed with their teeth or your dog is middle-aged or older, maybe schedule a cleaning.
6. No Fleas Please
Practice effective flea and heartworm control all year long to keep your pet safe from preventable diseases. You can check for fleas while massaging your pup. Not only do they love the attention, but it feels good for them, and you and gets canine and human endorphins juiced up.
7. Get Back to Training
Start training again or take your pup to an obedience class. Even if your pet isn’t unruly, training keeps you both sharp and engaged. Do short enrichment episodes with your dog throughout the day such as hiding treats or pieces of kibble. Take long walks with your dog, and use that as an occasion to also extend training by calling to them often, rewarding spot-on recalls. Short re-enforcement sessions are key.
8. Tidy up Your Home
Reassess your home, making sure the environment is safe for pets. Cover electrical cords, remove potential toxins (such as Gorilla Glue) and plants, and know the location and telephone number of your closest emergency hospital.
9. Buckle Up
Buckle up your dog in the car. Dogs should ride in the backseat, away from the dashboard, and safe from airbags. Unrestrained pets are dangerous to both you and your passengers, cause accidents, and can cause themselves injury. Use a seatbelt pet harness, dog-designed car seat, or travel crate to keep them safe.
Remember that while it is fun to meet friends at a dog park, your dog, and their activities, should always come first. Don’t get so involved in a conversation that you don’t know what your dog is up to or let them feel that you are not paying attention. Put away the cell phone while out with them too. Take the time daily to appreciate your pup; they do so much for you and ask little in return.
11. Make New Friends
Think of fostering or adopting a shelter dog — if you are a one-dog family, not only will your dog enjoy the company, but you can both help socialize the shelter dog. Or think of sponsoring a shelter dog, for very little, you can help defray the costs of spaying/neutering, vaccinations, chipping, etc.
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Dr. Shea Cox, DVM, CVPP, CHPV
Dr. Shea Cox is the founder of BluePearl Pet Hospice and is a global leader in animal hospice and palliative care. With a focus on technology, innovation and education, her efforts are changing the end-of-life landscape in veterinary medicine.