Are you the type of person who likes to work toward goals? Setting a New Year’s resolution helps around half our population meet or work toward important goals—and they can also work for your pet. So, instead of focusing on bettering yourself this year, consider a resolution that improves your pet’s health, longevity, or wellbeing. It’s not too late to get started—here are eight suggestions from our Village Veterinary Hospital team to help you meet your pet wellness goals this year.
#1: Stick to a daily pet routine
Most pets prefer a predictable daily routine, which helps them feel comfortable and safe. Not knowing when they will be walked or fed can make pets anxious and exacerbate existing behavior problems, so provide them with predictability by implementing and sticking to a daily routine that includes consistent wake up, potty, eating, one-on-one, and sleep times. Daily one-on-one time that consists of play, training, grooming, or another activity your pet enjoys also will increase the bond and love you feel for each other.
#2: Help your pet lose weight
Pet obesity affects around half U.S. dogs and cats, and can result in many of the same health problems that overweight humans face. Now is the time to work on your pet’s weight if they carry a few extra pounds, because the longer you wait, the more likely they will develop secondary health problems, like diabetes or arthritis. Weight loss programs are not one-size-fits-all, and you should consult with your veterinarian, who will determine the exercise amount and type your pet needs, and how to manipulate their diet for effective energy restriction that avoids nutrient deficiencies.
#3: Diversify your exotic pet’s diet
Exotic pets require specialized diets unique to their species and behavior, and unlike dogs and cats, most cannot thrive on commercially prepared diets alone. Many exotic species require fresh food or insect supplements to their overall diet, but always feeding the same items can eventually become boring, and provide your pet with little nutritional diversity. Ask your veterinarian how you can incorporate a food variety rotation for your exotic pet.
#4: Prevent pet parasite infestations
Parasites can affect most pets who are exposed to outdoor conditions or live with other outdoor pets, and these parasites often carry serious or deadly diseases they can transmit to your pet. Starting and maintaining a regular parasite control routine is an easy, cost-effective way to keep your pet happy and healthy by avoiding fleas, ticks, heartworms, intestinal worms, mites, lice, and other unpleasant creepy-crawlies. Ask your veterinarian to recommend the best product for your individual pet’s species, needs, and lifestyle.
#5: Spend more time with your pet
The human-animal bond is a remarkable relationship, but like any relationship, maintenance takes time and energy. Setting aside time with your pet each day helps build and maintain this bond, and often also stimulates and exercises your pet mentally. Choose an activity you both enjoy, such as cuddling on the couch, brushing, playing ball, running or walking outside, or chasing a toy around the house.
#6: Keep your pet’s brain healthy
Pets can become senile or develop clinical dementia as they age, with signs that often mirror human Alzheimer’s disease. While we still don’t know the exact cause of these changes in pets or humans, we do know that daily mental stimulation and physical exercise can keep your pet’s brain sharper and less likely to develop dementia. Such activities include training, food puzzles, interactive toys, interactions with other pets, walks outside, and trips to novel places.
#7: Commit to your pet’s dental health
Pets need regular dental care for the same reasons as people—without care, they will develop plaque, tartar, gingivitis, and painful periodontal disease. Pets with periodontal disease often have bad breath, loose, painful teeth, and infections along their gum line that can spread to internal organs. Get ahead of dental disease with regular veterinary dental exams and professional cleanings for your pet, and by starting a dental care home program. Brushing daily is most effective in slowing down periodontal disease, but your veterinarian can recommend additional products that may be useful for your particular pet.
Goals are easier to reach when they are specific and achievable, so you may be more successful if you break down these goals into smaller parts. The Village Veterinary Hospital team wants to work with you to achieve better pet health, and we’re here to answer your questions and guide you through the process. Call us anytime to schedule an appointment or to consult with a team member to set individual goals for your pet’s wellness.
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