If Your Dog or Cat Could Make New Year’s Resolutions, They Would Be …

 Dogs on New Year's Eve

Ever wonder what New Year’s resolutions your dog or cat might make? Well, here are some clues and ways you can help your pets reach their goals in 2017!

Get My Weight Where It Belongs

Our pets aren’t all that different than the rest of us -- their struggle with weight is real. An estimated 58% of cats and 54% of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.

Cynthia Sweet, DVM, at Badger Vet in Janesville tells us, “Obesity increases the risk of many health problems including arthritis, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, skin infection, and exercise and heat intolerance.”

Pet obesity is most commonly a simple case of food intake exceeding calories burned. Help your pet reach their weight loss goals by consulting your veterinarian for pet food and feeding recommendations.

“Nutrition is a key point in helping a pet lose weight,” says Dr. Sweet. “Calculating a pet’s daily calories, measuring the appropriate amount of food (no big gulp cups!), and feeding healthy treats, such as appropriate vegetables and fruits, can help a pet lose weight.

“Exercise is also a very important factor in helping your dog or cat lose weight.”

Help Me Exercise Regularly

All animals need exercise  -- cats need to play, dogs need to run, even hamsters need to spin on their wheels. Not only does exercise prevent boredom and behavior problems, it helps keep pets trim and healthy.

Exercise needs for dogs can vary widely based on age and breed as well as a dog’s individual health. Talk with your veterinarian about an ideal exercise routine for your dog. There are lots of great canine workout activities you can include:

Just like dogs, cats need daily play and exercise sessions. Just a couple of minutes two or three times a day is a good start to help satisfy your cat’s needs and burn a few calories. Since cats are natural hunters, use their instincts to motivate them.

  • Instigate tracking and pouncing with toys. Try electronic moving, squeaking mice; balls that light up when in motion; toys that crinkle when your cat pounces on them; and wand toys that dangle feather or fabric lures.
  • Let your cat “hunt” for his meals. Divide his daily allotment of food into four or more portions. Then hide the portions in different places around the house -- upstairs, downstairs, on the top ledge of the cat tree, under the bed, etc.
  • Take the super easy route -- pick up a brown paper bag. Cats can’t resist playing with one.

Give Me Social Time

Nutrition, vaccinations, parasite control, and regular veterinary exams -- these things are all necessary to provide a healthy life for your dog. Add to that list socialization. It’s a key to the overall wellness and health of dogs.

Give your dog some social time with other dogs. While some dogs don’t enjoy the company of other dogs, most love it. Playing with other dogs gives your dog an opportunity to make friends, practice appropriate dog body language, and burn off extra energy.

Don’t forget social time with YOU! Put down your phone, step away from the computer and TV, and spend one-on-one time with your pet. Not only will your pet love this time with you, but time with your pet will make you feel happier and less stressed. Win win!

Schedule My Annual Check-Up(s)

Dogs and cats age more rapidly than people. Dramatic changes in health can occur in as little as 3 to 6 months. With regular visits to your veterinarian, small problems can be caught quickly before they become major medical conditions.

“Wellness examinations are important to make sure your pet stays healthy and any problems or illnesses are caught early,” tells Dr. Sweet.

“Puppies and kittens should be examined at least every 4 weeks until they are at least 16 weeks of age, while they’re rapidly growing and getting their vaccines. For an average adult dog or cat, annual wellness examinations and blood work are recommended. For geriatric dogs and cats, semi-annual examinations and blood work are recommended since these pets are generally at higher risk for illnesses.”

Schedule your pet’s 2017 wellness visit(s) now! Your pet will thank you!