Critter Corner: New Year’s Resolutions for Your Pet

Dear Baxter,

I am getting older, and so is my dog, Brutus. In his old age, he is overweight and very lazy. What are some resolutions I can make that will help make me a better pet owner, and to make my pet healthier?

Thanks!

Pat Owner

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Dear Pat,

The start of a new year can signal a fresh start for you and your pet. Here are ten resolutions you can consider this year to make it your pet’s healthiest year yet!

Try a New Activity with Your Pet: From long walks to scenic hikes, you can incorporate your pet into a new exercise routine. It’s a great way to bond, it’ll get you both out of the house, and both owner and pet will reap the rewards of a healthy physical activity. Meet-up groups are a great way to socialize and find like-minded pet owners to join you in your exercise, too!

Groom Your Pet Daily: Brushing your pet serves many purposes. It removes excess fur from the coat, and helps keep the coat shiny and healthy. Daily grooming is also a bonding activity that demonstrates to your pet how much you love them by taking care of them in a very soothing manner.

Measure Your Pet’s Food – Every Time!: Many owners “eyeball” their pet’s daily intake and pour that into a bowl, usually resulting in overfeeding and weight gain. It’s important to use a measuring cup to ensure your pet isn’t taking in more calories than they need. The recommended feeding guidelines on the bag are good place to start to figure out how much food your pet really needs. Older pets and less active pets usually have lower energy needs.

Choose an Age-Appropriate Diet: Growing pets have very specific nutrient requirements to ensure their bodies grow healthy and strong. For example, some senior pets may have lower energy requirements, but have other medical issues like degenerative joint disease that may be helped with the appropriate diet. Choosing a diet specifically tailored to your pet’s life stage is a great way to keep them in optimal health.

Make an Appointment with Your Vet: Yearly examinations by a veterinarian are a key component of good preventive care. Many medical conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, or obesity are common in aging pets and much easier to manage when detected in the early stages of the disease process. Veterinary visits are also the perfect time to ask for advice on updating your pet’s diet and exercise regimen.

Teach an Old Dog a New Trick: Studies show that mental stimulation can help reduce cognitive deterioration in aging animals. In other words, keeping your senior pet’s brain active can actually make it healthier! Teaching your pet new tricks and practicing those they already know are a great way to keep those neurons firing. Puzzle feeders, which force a pet to think through a task in order to be rewarded with a treat, are also an excellent way to keep a pet’s mind engaged.

Update Pet ID Info: If any of your contact information has changed in 2017, don’t wait — update their tags and microchip information today! It’s the best way to ensure a lost pet makes their way safely home.

Hope this is helpful!

Baxter

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