Do your New Year’s resolutions mostly focus on your health? If so, why not share them with your pet? Everyone needs an accountability buddy, and who could be a better buddy than your four-legged friend? Check out these New Year’s resolution recommendations from the Bayview Animal Hospital team and make this year the best one yet for you and your pet.
Determine your pet’s health baseline
As you chart a course through the next 12 months, you should know your starting point. A baseline health assessment will ensure all systems are “go” for future adventures, and also identify hidden changes that could signal trouble (i.e., disease or injury) down the line. Early intervention can cure or minimize many serious health issues, so your pet may seem healthy and normal, but you must keep up with their annual wellness visits.
We can’t speak for your physical at your physician’s office, but your pet’s Bayview Animal Hospital wellness exam will include:
- Comprehensive physical examination — Our veterinarian will inspect your pet from nose to tail, looking for visible or palpable abnormalities.
- Preventive care — Vaccinations protect your pet from infectious viruses in the environment, while screening tests (e.g., fecal and heartworm, and tick-borne disease testing) can reveal parasitic disease.
- Nutritional counseling — Pet nutritional needs vary during their lifetime, so we’ll provide tailored recommendations based on your pet’s lifestyle, body condition, and health.
- Oral health recommendations — Dental disease is the number one preventable disease that affects dogs and cats. If your pet’s teeth need some TLC, we’ll prepare a personalized treatment plan to stop dental disease progression.
- Blood work — Annual wellness blood work is one of the most beneficial annual tests for your pet. Blood work provides your veterinarian with invaluable internal health information, including your pet’s organ function, hormone levels, and biomarkers that can indicate disease long before your pet becomes sick.
Establish healthy eating habits for your pet
Pet obesity is an epidemic, with nearly 60% of U.S. cats and dogs qualifying as overweight (i.e., weighing 10% to 20% more than their ideal weight) or obese (i.e., weighing 20% or more above their ideal weight). Unfortunately, weight loss can be as challenging for pets as for people, and owners often don’t know where to begin.
After a visit to Bayview Animal Hospital to rule out any medical causes for your pet’s excess weight, these daily habits can help your pet slim down and add years to their life.
- Restrict your pet’s portion size — Instead of allowing your pet to graze throughout the day, divide their daily food allotment into several small meals.
- Swap store-bought treats for healthy snacks — Commercial pet treats are loaded with calories and artificial ingredients. Try using fresh alternatives, such as lean skinless chicken, blueberries, apple slices, baby carrots, green beans, and air-popped plain popcorn.
- Encourage slow eating — Pets who gulp down their food are at risk for health issues and are less likely to feel satiated. Replace your pet’s bowl with a food-dispensing ball or puzzle toy. If your pet eats wet food, spread their meals on a lickable mat.
Get in shape with your pet
If you’ve resolved to be more active in the new year, why not grab your dog’s leash or pick up your cat’s laser pointer? The best resolutions to share with your pet focus on physical fitness—and your four-legged friend can help with motivation and accountability. According to an American Heart Association survey, dog owners walk more and are more physically active than non-dog owners, satisfying their recommended amounts of moderate and vigorous exercise and lowering their cardiovascular disease risks.
Further enhance your motivation by seeking out a pet-friendly physical activity that speaks to you, such as:
- Doga (i.e., dog yoga) classes
- Walking or hiking groups
- Couch-to-5K training programs
- Dog agility, tracking, or parkour training classes
Cat-friendly games, on the other hand, may not increase your heart rate, but they’ll do wonders for your cat’s physical and emotional health and are a great way to bond with your feline friend. Purr-fect cat activities include:
- Chasing a laser pointer, ball, or motorized toy
- Playing with a feather wand or flirt pole toy
- Teaching your cat to follow a target stick through an indoor obstacle course made with play tunnels, jumps, cat trees, and cardboard boxes.
Learn something new with your pet
Pets crave mental stimulation—and what better way to ignite their neurons than learning a new skill, trick, or behavior? Dog or cat training builds your pet’s confidence and helps you learn effective communication with your pet. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.
Sign up for a local dog training class or check out these online resources for a virtual learning experience:
- Shaped By Dog podcast — Susan Garrett is a world-renowned dog trainer and agility competitor who brings clarity and kindness to dog training.
- Catschool.co — This cat training website is filled with free tutorials and resources.
- SpiritDog Academy — This online school offers lessons on almost every subject from puppies, to sports, to behavior issues.
Address your pet’s dental health
If you’re looking to amp up your oral health routine, try doing the same for your pet for the new year. Dental disease is the most commonly diagnosed—but preventable—condition in dogs and cats and can lead to serious health issues, including pain, infection, bone loss, and organ failure.
Protect your pet’s dental health by visiting Bayview Animal Hospital for an annual oral exam, brushing your pet’s teeth at home at least three times per week, and feeding Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC)-approved dental diets or chews.
No matter what 2023 brings, the Bayview Animal Hospital team is here to provide exceptional and compassionate care for your pet’s expected and unexpected health needs. Contact us to schedule your pet’s next visit or request an appointment online.