New Year’s Resolutions for Your Pet from a Vet
You popped the New Year’s champagne, belted out Auld Lang Syne, and as you embark on your New Year’s Resolutions, consider your pet while you're at it. Here are a few resolutions to help you and your furry family enjoy health and happiness in the New Year.
1. Maintain a healthy weight. Exercise is good for both you and your pet. Make a pledge to extend your daily walks or increase their frequency. Remember, the majority of American pets are overweight to obese. This increases their chances of developing arthritis, diabetes, as well as certain skin and liver diseases to name a few. Monitor portion sizes and keep treats to no more than ten percent of total calorie intake per day.
2. Budget for both preventative and emergency care. We never like to think about bad things happening to our loved ones, but the reality is that most pet owners seek emergency care at least once with their animals due to trauma, illness, or sudden injury. The costs for after-hours care can quickly add up. Since most people don’t have pet health insurance, it behooves owners to set aside some funds for those just-in-case times. It helps prevent making important medical decisions based solely on costs; sadly I find this is often the case.
3. Pledge to upgrade nutrition. We may resolve to eat fewer cheesecakes and nachos, while substituting more salads and the like. Dogs and cats can benefit from similar types of changes. Cheap foods may taste good, but in the long term, upgrading to a higher-quality diet has many benefits.
4. Consider a microchip. Most veterinary clinics and shelters have the ability to quickly and inexpensively implant an identification chip between an animal’s shoulder blades. This is especially helpful if your pet gets lost and loses their collar and identification tags. It greatly increases their chance of finding their way back to you. Note: Most microchips do not have GPS capabilities. This technology does exist but is usually a collar-mounted unit and requires a monthly fee to maintain, while an implanted chip usually only requires a one-time set up fee. It works by acting as a means of permanent identification. The microchip company has your contact information on file, and when your pet is found and scanned by a vet or a shelter employee, they can find a way to reach you.
5. Continue pet wellness care. We humans can usually tell if something is a little “off” in our bodies. Animals are usually more subtle when they start to feel ill. Regular check-ups can help detect a problem early and thus increase the chances of successful treatment should something abnormal be detected.
6. Adopt! If you’re thinking about adding a new furry face to your clan, consider adoption from a local shelter or through an online service such as www.petfinder.com or specific breed rescues. Shelters are chock full of adoptable pets of all ages. By avoiding the pet store puppies, you also do your part to discourage “puppy mill” type breeders.
Disclaimer: This information is educational in nature and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical prevention, diagnosis, or treatment.
Jennifer Deming, DVM, is a practicing veterinarian and member of the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition. She strives to improve her patients' wellness through nutrition counseling and preventative medicine. Dr. Deming lives, works, and plays in the beautiful community of Durango, Colorado.