With the New Year finally here, many of us have made resolutions to improve our lives. But, we should also consider making some important resolutions on behalf of our pets. This month, we focus upon a very easy but limited set of resolutions that can help your pet—and you.

1. Spend Time Together
Typically, many of our pets spend their day relaxing and awaiting our return from work. When we arrive home, we are greeted with licks, enthusiasm, and the leash. While the temptation may be to delay any joint activity, we encourage everyone to develop a togetherness routine with your pet.

Spending time with your pet will increase their physical activity and enable them to fulfill a deep-seated emotional connection with you—making them healthier and happier. Including multiple family members to deepen engagement will only help elevate these benefits for your pet. Importantly, spending time with your pet will also enable you to depressurize, lower stress levels, and more quickly transition to a “home” mindset.

 

Spending Time with Your Pet

 

To spend more time together, consider developing activities that include your pet with the family. During weekends in the cooler months, bring your pets with you as you run weekend errands. Make a stop at the local park to enjoy time together. And be sure to include your pets in your family’s evening activities.

2. Exercise More
While our pets are domesticated, they still require activity to maintain their overall health. Daily walks, runs or aerobic exercise tone the muscles, fortify the bones and stimulate the respiratory, circulatory, digestive and other important systems. While exercising your pet, it’s important that there are periods of elevated heart rate followed by a gradual cooldown period. A brisk walk to the park, followed by a game of frisbee, ball or fetch, and then a casual walk home will accomplish this objective.

 

Pet Playing Frisbee

 

Be sure to bring plenty of water to keep your pet hydrated and to help them cool down. But remember, don’t let them drink all of the water at once; it’s best to alternate between 15 seconds of drinking, and 15 seconds of breathing.

And while exercising your pet, don’t be afraid to join in!

3. Watch their Weight
Pet obesity is a growing concern as excess weight can reduce your pet’s life expectancy by more than two years. Importantly, a healthy weight lowers a pet’s risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, respiratory disease, kidney disease, and some forms of cancer. And it can also reduce stress upon a pet’s joints—which is important as they age.

Managing a pet’s weight requires balancing what a pet eats (in terms of calories and nutritional value) with their activity level—or calories burned. When consumed calories exceed burned calories, your pet gains weight. When burned calories exceed consumed calories, your pet loses weight.

 

Pet Weight Chart

 

Among the easiest way to reduce your pet’s caloric intake is to limit (if not eliminate) table scraps. Human food is often higher in fat, salt and other undesirable additives that your pet would do best without. A combination of low calorie treats with an appropriately-portioned, balanced, and nutritional pet food can quickly drive your pet to a healthy weight. But before you embark on a weight loss plan, please contact us so we can help you develop a weight loss (or management) program, and to help you select the right food for your pet.

4. Groom Regularly
Weekly or even daily pet brushing provides a unique bonding opportunity with your pet. Beyond establishing a routine, it enables you to see, firsthand, how your pet is feeling and to identify potential issues early. During the brushing, be sure to:

  • Look for any parasites such as ticks or fleas
  • Feel their skin for any new/growing bumps or masses
  • Notice any paw, leg or other sensitivities
  • Look for any issues with their eyes, ears or teeth
  • Detect any behavioral changes such as an unwillingness to approach, or inability to understand

Regular brushing provides you with a benchmark, and the ability to quickly identify changes. If you detect any changes that cause you concern, please contact us.

 

Brushing Your Pet

 

5. Schedule Annual Checkup
Annual checkups are essential to maintaining your pet’s health and longevity. During these reviews, we’ll weigh your pet, administer any required vaccines, and fully evaluate your pet—from their nose to their tail. Before conducting our review, we’ll ask you a series of questions about your pet’s recent health and activity—and provide answers to any questions or concerns you might have.

During the review, we’ll examine their eyes, ears and teeth; listen to their heart and breathing; examine your pet’s coat, muscular and skeletal structure; review your pet’s diet and activity levels; and conduct any necessary diagnostic tests (such as fecal, bloodwork, etc.) to ensure your pet is healthy or to help confirm any diagnosis. Based upon the findings of the exam, we may suggest additional specific courses of action all focused upon early action and preventative measures.

As 2021 progresses, we look forward to returning toward scheduling annual checkups for all of our owners’ pets.

Best Wishes
We look forward to a bright 2021, and we hope these resolutions are helpful for every owner and their pets.