I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions. Starting the year off doomed to fail doesn’t seem productive to me.
I do, however, like to set goals at the start of the New Year. I never make them too lofty, because once again, failing to achieve them will only make me feel bad, and that is not useful.
At least one of my goals is usually health related. After all the holiday celebrating, it’s a necessity.
So if you’re planning on setting some goals for yourself in 2016, how about including some goals for your pets’ good health too?
Since our pets can’t vow to be healthier in the New Year, it’s up to us to be sure they’re living the healthiest life possible.
Here are 8 things you can do in 2016 to be sure your pet is healthy, happy and living the best quality of life they can.
- Take them to the vet at least once a year.
It’s the only way you can be certain to catch a serious problem early.
Your vet will check your pet from nose to tail for any abnormalities. They’ll listen to their heart and their breathing, and will check their skin, ears, eyes and mouth.
They’ll also be sure they’re up to date on all their vaccines. Don’t neglect those. Prevention is essential to a long healthy life.
At your annual visit, your vet may recommend a blood panel, especially if your pet is over the age of 7 or if you’ve noticed a problem that makes your vet suspicious.
They may also do a fecal test to check for parasites, particularly in puppies.
Depending on your pet’s overall health and any problems you may be noticing, the vet may recommend other tests like X-rays or EKGs. But your vet will know what’s necessary based on their evaluation of your pet’s health.
- Take care of your pet’s teeth.
Your pet’s dental health is as important to their overall health as your dental health is to your well-being.
But truth be told, most pet owners overlook their pet’s teeth. I have to admit, I have been guilty of this myself…until I owned a sighthound.
Sighthounds have notoriously bad teeth. And because my greyhound had a $2,500 dental surgery bill a few weeks after we rescued him, I quickly learned how to brush those fangs of his.
And even though I had never brushed the teeth of any of the dogs I had before Chaser, my lab Honey now gets her teeth brushed too.
We take care of our own teeth, but somehow we’re reluctant to do the same for our pets. I think the biggest obstacle to brushing our pet’s teeth is our assumption that it’s going to be hard to do, and that our pet won’t tolerate it.
Here’s some good news…you can easily train your pet to not only tolerate teeth brushing but to actually enjoy it.
Next week, we’ll talk about how to do that. And it will be fun for you and your pet!
- Feed your pet a healthy diet.
There is so much misinformation floating around about what your pets should and shouldn’t eat. If you’re confused, talk to your vet about what your pet needs.
But here’s what’s important to know about your pet’s food.
You should always feed your pet the highest quality food you can afford. Remember that super premium foods are more nutritious so you don’t need to feed your pet as much. The higher cost is offset because you’ll buy less.
A dog’s diet should contain:
High quality animal based protein for muscle maintenance
Fiber for a healthy digestive system
Healthy grains for energy
Essential vitamins and minerals for a properly functioning immune system
Fish oils for overall health
A cat’s diet should contain:
High levels of easily digestible protein
Taurine for a healthy heart and eyes
Vitamin A and niacin for healthy growth, skin and coat
Essential fatty acids for healthy skin and fur
A nutritious diet is critical to your pet’s longevity, just as it is to yours. And be sure to feed your pet the right amount of food for their optimal weight, because an overweight pet is more likely to have health problems that will shorten their lives.
Husse is a premium pet food that contains all the ingredients needed to keep your pet healthy.
If you’re not already feeding it to your pet, talk to a Husse pet consultant to learn more about why it’s the right food for the longevity of your pet. To speak with a knowledgeable pet food consultant in Arizona, call 480-498-8754. In California, call 949-344-0656.
- Give your pet the daily exercise they need.
Your pet will derive the same benefits from exercise that we humans do. It’ll help them maintain a healthy weight, and keep their muscles and bones strong. But it’s also good for their mental health.
They need fresh air. They love getting out and seeing the sights. And it’s a chance to bond with you.
If you have a dog, try getting outside with them at least twice a day for 20 minutes at a time. You can play a game of fetch in your yard or take them on a nice walk around the neighborhood.
If you are someone who really likes to be active, you might consider getting your dog involved in agility training, flyball, tracking or hiking.
Even if you have a cat, you can give them indoor exercise with a jungle gym or an indoor climbing tree.
Although cats naturally have a high metabolism, they still need exercise to maintain muscle and keep their minds active.
Exercising with your pet is the fun part of owning one. You get to spend time with someone you love, doing something you both enjoy.
- Provide your pet with some mental stimulation.
In addition to exercising your pet’s body, you need to exercise their minds. If you don’t give your pet mental stimulation, they’ll find their own mental stimulation…like chewing your dining room chair or pulling the threads out of your carpet.
Does it sound like I’m speaking from experience?
They make great pet puzzles and games for dogs and cats. They usually involve finding a hidden treat.
Dogs also love trying to get some delicious wet food out of a stuffed Kong toy. It will keep them busy for some time and it’s great exercise for their brains.
I’ve also used this activity to minimize separation anxiety.
- Stay on top of parasite prevention and management.
Fleas, ticks, heartworm, and intestinal parasites can be anything from a nuisance to deadly.
Intestinal parasites are easily detected with a fecal sample and cured with a deworming treatment.
Fleas can cause skin irritations if your pet has an allergic reaction to them. Ticks can carry dangerous diseases like Lyme and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. And heartworm, which is passed by a mosquito bite, is fatal if not treated.
But all of these parasites can be prevented with monthly treatments. You should talk to your vet about the best options for your pet.
- Spare yourself the heartache of losing your pet by microchipping them.
I have nightmares about somebody leaving the front door open and my dog getting out. But at least she is microchipped.
If a responsible person finds her, they can bring her to any animal hospital or rescue organization to have the chip read. She also wears a collar with the microchip information and our contact info on it.
Of course, collars can come off and I have to confess we don’t leave a collar on her when she’s in the house because her skin around her neck is very sensitive. But the chip is permanently embedded in her skin.
Remember, when you microchip your dog you must keep your contact info up to date with the chip company or it’s useless to microchip them at all.
- Most importantly for you and your pet, love and nurture them.
The best preventive medicine for you and your pet is to love them unconditionally. When you nurture your pet, they feel loved. And there’s nothing better than that to keep your pet happy and healthy.
Although we don’t know how our pets understand love, we know they do and they reciprocate it every day. So we owe it to them to be the best pet parents we can be.
Here’s to a happy and healthy 2016 to you and your furry family members!
We’d love to hear what fun activities you do with your pets to keep them active and healthy. Share in the comment section above.