The new year is an exciting milestone during which we often check in on our wellbeing and set goals for self-improvement. This year, consider using the holiday as an opportunity to evaluate and improve the health of your furry friend, as well, by including them in your new year’s resolutions.
Dr. Christine Rutter, a clinical assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, offers some resolutions owners can set to improve their pet’s wellness in 2020.
Just as owners may reflect on their physical health every January, the start of the new year is a wonderful time to take stock of your pet’s health. For example, how are their activity levels and weight? If you are unsure, Rutter advises that owners ask their veterinarian those questions.
“I think a resolution to spend more time with your pet is a great one. If your dog can tolerate walking, this is a great way to improve your own mental and physical health, as well as strengthen the bond between pet and owner,” Rutter said. “For cats, enrichment such as a laser pointer, feather wands, and crinkle toys can really get them moving—and they are delightful to watch!”
On a similar note, Rutter recommends that pet owners establish a dental care routine for their pet in the new year. A great way to begin this is to bring your pet in for an evaluation and cleaning. Because February is Pet Dental Health Month, Rutter advises that pet owners schedule an appointment early to take advantage of discounts that many veterinarians may offer on their dentistry services.
This can also be a time to check up on your pet’s check-ups.
Make sure your pet has an annual wellness visit scheduled for routine vaccinations. Knowing which immunizations will be expiring allows owners time to schedule appointments for them to be renewed. Owners should also consider updating their pet’s heartworm testing and medication, as well as parasite prevention plans with your veterinarian.
“There are a lot of new parasite and heartworm prevention products out there, and it’s a great time to check and see what is right for your pet(s),” Rutter said.
Owners may also want to take a second look at the snacks they feed their pets. Many dog treats and rawhides are high in calories, sodium, and fat. Dogs, especially smaller breeds, require far fewer calories than humans do and are easy to overfeed.
Because the little snacks owners feed their pets really add up, Rutter suggests owners consider healthier options.
“Dogs typically love baby carrots, apples, green beans, cauliflower, and melon. Just stay away from onions, peppers, grapes, raisins, and garlic,” Rutter said. “Each dog is different, and if you’ve been giving them delicious stinky dog treats (or even worse, table food), they may turn their nose at these offerings initially. They will come around once the table food and tasty treats decrease in frequency.”
The new year marks the beginning of many commitments to health and personal improvement. In 2020, why not extend your goals to improve the lives of the furry friends who love you the most?
Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. Stories can be viewed on the web at vetmed.tamu.edu/news/pet-talk. Suggestions for future topics may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.