A new year brings a new start, and resolutions to improve your health and lifestyle. More than 50% of people make New Year’s resolutions, but less than 10% keep them for more than a few months. And, few people think to include their furry pal in their resolution list. You may not have reorganized your closets yet, and your workout clothes may still be at the bottom of your drawer, but keeping resolutions for your pet can be easy with Bayside Animal Hospital’s help. Cross off those unmanageable resolutions—who can really drink a gallon of water each day?—and replace them with these four items that will help your pet have their healthiest year yet.
#1: Catch up on your pet’s dental care
How long ago did you lift your pet’s lip to look at their teeth? Do you shy away when you dog leans in for a slobbery, stinky kiss? Dental tartar and bad breath are not normal in pets—rather, they are signs of well-established dental disease. Most pets will develop dental disease by age 3, unless they receive regular dental care, including daily toothbrushing. If your pet has bad doggy breath, schedule an appointment for a dental evaluation, where we will assess their oral health and let you know if a professional cleaning is in order. Once we have cleaned the tartar from your pet’s teeth, you can begin an at-home brushing routine, which will help slow tartar accumulation and prevent periodontal disease that can lead to infection, pain, and tooth loss.
#2: Encourage daily activity for your pet
Getting through the winter can be tough, and your pet can also experience the winter blues. Many of us felt cabin fever this past year, so imagine how your pet feels cooped up inside day after day. Getting outside and staying active can help you and your pet maintain a positive mental outlook, so dig out those workout clothes and head outdoors to keep your furry pal active. Make time for a walk, hike, or game of fetch every day. Mix it up, to avoid getting stuck in a routine—try a new hiking trail or park, or teach your dog a new game.
On days you can’t get outside, provide indoor activities for your pet, instead of cuddling up on the couch for the newest Netflix series. Design an obstacle course for your pet to navigate—cats can also learn to master an obstacle course, with the right incentive. Or, play hide and seek by telling your dog to “Stay” while you hide, and then calling them to you.
#3: Rethink how you feed your pet
Your resolution list likely includes healthy eating, and you should also evaluate your pet’s eating habits. Do they run to their bowl, wolf down their food, and then head back to the couch for a post-meal nap? If so, swap your pet’s standard food bowl for an interactive feeder that will make them work for their food. Interactive feeders are basically food-dispensing toys that provide mental and physical stimulation for your pet. Food puzzles may require your pet to open doors, slide levers, or manipulate pieces of food through a maze. An interactive feeder provides your pet with much-needed mental enrichment by requiring them to think and problem solve. The feeder also slows them down, so they spend more time moving around and less time napping.
#4: Keep your pet’s preventive care visits
You may be tempted to delete that reminder for your pet’s wellness visit, since they seem healthy, but wellness and preventive care visits focus on keeping your pet healthy and preventing future problems. Vaccines and parasite preventives are critical for keeping your pet safe from infectious diseases and parasites that can significantly shorten their life. During your pet’s wellness visit, our veterinary team will also perform a thorough physical exam to evaluate your pet’s health and check for subtle illness signs you may not notice. We may recommend blood work, which allows us to delve deeper and check your pet’s organ function. Some diseases, such as kidney failure, show no external signs until they have advanced to an untreatable stage. With blood work, we can often detect organ failure and other conditions in their early stages, when treatment is more likely to help.
Our Bayside Animal Hospital team wants to help you keep your pet healthy and happy all year long. Give us a call to schedule a dental evaluation or preventive care visit for your furry friend, and cross those items off your resolution list.