A new year is a fresh start- an opportunity to test new ideas, fix broken habits and begin new adventures. The conscious decision to begin anew in the New Year arises in the form of a resolution. Perhaps your resolutions is to exercise more, work less, spend more time with family or avoid the fiscal cliff. But did you consider your pet when making your new year’s resolutions? This New Year make your pet into a resolution. Here are some ideas for New Year’s resolutions for your pet.
1) Walk more. Walk your dog an extra block, take half-day hikes, walk twice a day or walk your dog to the coffee shop. Longer walks equate to more time spent with your pet and better health. Pet obesity is steadily increasing in the US and walking your pet directly combats obesity and related health problems.
2) Visit your veterinarian twice a year. The AVMA will be recommending that pets see their veterinarian twice a year for wellness care and vaccinations. Bi-annual visits to your veterinarian are essential to ensure sure your pet is healthy and has no undetectable illnesses. Similarly, vaccinations and parasite preventives are critical for preventing unwanted diseases.
3) Try new toys. If your dog has owned every squeaky toy, plush toy, ball or bone known to earth- then it is time to mix it up. Instead of a squeaky toy perhaps try a new bone or instead of that new bone try a ball. Rotating toys keeps your dog entertained. For cats, try playing with a laser pointer or a feather wand and commit to at least twenty minutes each week.
4) Be more social with your pet. Animals are social creatures and enjoy interacting with other animals and people. If your dog is a social hound, make a resolution to take her to the dog park three times a month. Agility classes and social dog groups both offer novel opportunities for your pup to socialize more. For cats, try a cat play date with a friend’s cat.
5) Volunteer your pet. Comfort dogs, dog and cat blood donors and companion pets are great ways for your pet to volunteer. The Sandy Hook shooting demonstrated the comfort and reassurance pets can give to those in distress. Similarly, the elderly benefit from being around animals. In addition, animal blood donors are needed for pet blood banks. Most pets will undergo a screening process to ensure they are qualified for their chosen duty.
6) Groom your pet more often. Brushing your pet helps keep them clean and healthy by removing extra hair and dirt. Grooming your pet also gives you an opportunity to inspect them for hidden health problems. If your pet has gingivitis, bad breath or tartar strongly consider brushing their teeth four times a week. Most animals’ enjoy the attention and will tolerate moderate brushing.
7) Keep the litter box clean or teach your cat to use the toilet. The number one reason why cats are surrendered to shelters is inappropriate elimination. Cats are more likely to consistently use the litter box when it is clean. If you are curious to learn how to teach your cat to use the toilet there are a number of good You Tube how-to videos available.
8) Solve unwanted behavioral problems. If your dog or cat has a quirky behavioral problem stop it now before it becomes a problem. A boarded (veterinarian with advanced training in pet behavior) pet behaviorist can offer insight into why your dog or cat behaves oddly and can make recommendations to fix the problem. Often, licensed pet behaviorists are less expensive than animal trainers.
The best resolutions are those that can be achieved through minor lifestyle modifications. For example, resolving to walk your dog an extra thirty minutes per week equates to less than five extra minutes each week. Likewise taking your pet to the vet twice a year only requires two visits and pro-actively circumvents avoidable diseases. So this year make a great resolution by make a pet resolution.