Yeah, your pet needs a healthy lifestyle too. A healthy body condition is very important for total body health and longevity. Consult with a veterinarian to determine if your pet is in a healthy condition, and determine how many Calories your pet needs to consume at each meal. Then buckle down! Encourage light exercise and avoid table scraps. Fatty foods such as beef, pork, chicken skin, and sweets should be avoided. Cut back the number of treats you offer. Substitute green beans in moderation as a healthy snack alternative.
Commit to Dental Health
Those pearly whites are important! Dental disease is one of the most common ailments of both cats and dogs. Brushing your pet’s teeth 2-3 times a week can help to prevent build up of dental calculus. Use a VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Committee) approved toothpaste (don’t use your own toothpaste!) and gently brush the teeth and gums. Once dental tartar has built up, there is no substitute for an anesthetized oral exam, x-rays, dental cleaning, and extraction of diseased teeth. Talk to your veterinarian about dental health!
Remember the Preventatives
It is so easy to forget flea and tick preventatives and heartworm preventatives, however, these are one of the most important parts of keeping your pet healthy! Pick a day of the month and consistently administer both a flea and tick preventative product AND a heartworm preventative. Most veterinarians do recommend this be done year round! If your pet has been off of heartworm preventative, it will be necessary to perform a heartworm test prior to starting preventative. Heartworm testing requires a few drops of blood, and results are usually available within 10 minutes. Even our feline friends benefit from monthly flea and tick preventatives. Some products for cats are heartworm and intestinal parasite preventatives as well. Fleas, ticks, heartworms, and intestinal parasites are all very common in our area, and a lot of frustration can be saved by remembering the monthly preventatives.
Learn New Tricks
Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Learning new tricks and obedience exercises can be a good way of bonding, and keeps our pets mentally stimulated. For dogs, start simple and build on the tricks. Learning good manners, such as sit and stay, is a great way to transition to some more complicated things! Cats can learn new things too, tricks aren’t just for dogs. If your cat isn’t one who likes to do tricks, try some “environmental enrichments” that encourage hunting behaviors. Food puzzles, food balls, and new toys can keep your cat engaged and mentally stimulated.
What better way to get exercise for you and for your dog? Go for a walk, or two, or three! Resolve to walk your pet frequently. It’s good for you, and it’s good for the dog. Exercise encourages healthy joints, builds muscle, is good for mental stimulation, and is good bonding time. If leash manners are a problem, a dog obedience course may be a good learning opportunity for pets and people.
Litter Box Hygiene
No Kitty New Year Resolution list is complete without making some resolutions about the all important litter box. Resolve to have at least one litter box per cat, plus one! No cat wants to wait in line. Similarly, no cat wants to use a dirty bathroom. Scoop daily, clean weekly. This is one resolution you shouldn’t pass up!