New Years resolutions for pets: Do more of what they love
The start of a New Year is a great time to review your life, and perhaps it’s also a good time to review the life of your pet. Animals can't make resolutions for themselves, but as an owner perhaps there are some key points that you can work on to improve the quality of life of the animals in your life.
Here are a few suggestions.
Spend more time exercising with your pet
Ideally, adult dogs should be taken for a walk for around half an hour, twice daily: if you are not doing this, resolve to do it in 2018. The physical exercise part of going for a walk is important: up to 60% of dogs are overweight or obese, and regular burning up of calories is key to staying fit and lean.
If you have a big garden, it isn’t enough to allow your dog just to meander around on their own: they need to leave their local area to savour the sights, smells and sounds of novel, interesting locations.
Lack of regular exercise is the biggest cause of so-called “bad behaviour”. Boredom and pent up energy cause common issues like excessive barking, chewing, and digging holes in the garden. The first line of tackling these behavioural problems is to organise regular and sufficient exercise.
Even elderly dogs that cannot walk far should be taken out and about: they enjoy the mental diversion of seeing, smelling and hearing new experiences. If necessary, a pet stroller can even be used to make it easier for them.
Cats are not normally taken for walks in the same way as dogs, but it’s still useful for owners to spend time engaging with them properly in play: cats need to burn up calories just like dogs, and the one-to-one time spent with a pet is excellent for the animal:owner relationship.
Feed your pet a carefully considered diet
Many owners don’t think too much about what they feed their pets, just buying whatever is handiest at the local supermarket or pet shop. While it’s true that most pets have diets that are adequate, issues like obesity are common, and there are other low-grade health issues that are linked to nutrition. Many owners find that if they change their pet's diet to a more expensive, high quality diet, made from carefully selected top quality ingredients, the health and appearance of their pet improves significantly.
Spend more time caring for your pet's teeth
Many pets suffer from ongoing dental disease yet this can easily be prevented. There’s a common myth that pets’ teeth are somehow “self cleaning”, and most owners seem happy to ignore what lies behind their pets’ lips. The truth is that dental disease causes discomfort and can shorten a pet’s life. To optimise pet dental health, a simple daily routine is all that’s needed. A combination of a quick brush (for the front teeth) with a clinically proven dental chew (for the back teeth) is the ideal answer.
Groom your pet more often
Brushing a dog or cat’s coat helps to keep the fur clean and tangle-free, but it also helps to foster a close bond between owner and pet. A daily brush is good for pet and for owner.
Practice good preventive medicine for your pet
Rather than waiting till a pet develops a medical problem, it makes sense to take simple steps to prevent certain common issues. The two main areas are vaccination and parasite control, and for each of these, you should talk to your own vet. The old idea of “one size fits all” no longer applies: some pets need more vaccines than others (depending on their individual lifestyle) and each pet should also have its own, customised, parasite control programme. You need to consider internal parasites (including lungworm, roundworm and tapeworm) as well as external parasites (such as fleas and ticks). Your vet will help you choose the most appropriate products to achieve comprehensive control.
A few simple changes in your daily routine with your pet can reap significant long term rewards for your pet’s physical – and mental – health and wellness.