The start of a new year is a great time to evaluate your current lifestyle and habits, and it is the perfect time to do the same for your pets. From weight loss to dental care, setting New Year’s resolutions for your furry family is a great way to keep them healthy, happy, and bonded to you. As an added bonus, many goals that you set for your pets can be shared by family members. 

#1: Schedule your pet’s annual examination

The first step to a healthy pet is a visit to your veterinarian. Your pet may seem perfectly normal, but she still needs a yearly physical exam to ensure she is healthy and disease-free. This appointment is also a great opportunity to discuss other health-related New Year’s resolutions you have for your four-legged friend.

Here are some benefits your pet can experience from an annual visit with Dr. Cagle:

  • A discussion of her history, and any clinical signs
  • A nose-to-tail physical examination
  • Screening for diseases, such as heartworm and tick-borne conditions
  • Any necessary immunizations
  • Routine deworming and parasite-prevention advice
  • Diet recommendations
  • Dental-care recommendations

#2: Formulate your pet’s weight-loss plan

In 2017, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) found that more than 50% of dogs and cats were overweight or obese. As part of your pet’s annual exam, Dr. Cagle will assess her body condition and determine if weight loss is necessary. Since the majority of overweight and obese pets are overfed, Dr. Cagle will provide instructions on an appropriate feeding regimen and recommend individual exercises. Keep a journal to carefully document your pet’s food intake and exercise, and stop in regularly to weigh your pet.

#3: Analyze your pet’s diet

Whether or not your pet needs to lose weight, taking a close look at the amount of food she regularly eats can put her on the right track to a healthy diet. Does your pet eat a high-quality commercial diet, or are table scraps a mainstay? Are Milk Bones her daily treat, or does she get a rawhide chew occasionally? Are you thinking about switching her to a grain-free or raw-food diet? At your pet’s annual exam, be honest about what she eats, including treats, to help Dr. Cagle determine appropriate dietary recommendations. 

#4: Prioritize playtime

Playtime isn’t for puppies and kittens only. In fact, regular games of gentle fetch or chase can help keep your older pet physically and mentally sharp. Not to mention—playtime is also a wonderful bonding opportunity for you and your pet. Incorporate this valuable time with your pet into your daily schedule, and get your own healthy exercise at the same time. 

#5: Get your pet on a regular grooming schedule

Grooming can often take a backseat to other routine pet care, but keeping your pet neat and clean is important for overall health. When grooming isn’t prioritized, many things can go awry, including:

  • Matted fur — Mats can cause painful pulling, and skin infections
  • Long nails — These are not only uncomfortable to walk on, but also can become caught or broken
  • Long facial hair — Too-long hair can irritate the eyes or impinge on vision
  • Skin infections, parasites, and general odor — All these problems can persist without regular bathing

#6: Try a new exercise

Tired of the same old routine with your pet? Mix it up this year by trying something new and exciting. If your pet is super active, agility training could be a fun way for her to expend some energy, while water-rescue training is a great option for avid swimmers. It is never too late to teach a new trick, and your pet’s willingness to learn and do new things may surprise you. 

#7: Brush up with a new pet dental-care routine

Approximately two-thirds of pets over the age of 3 have some form of dental disease, and an at-home oral-care routine is currently recommended for most pets. Dr. Cagle can provide specific recommendations for your pet during her annual exam, but daily brushing is typically the best preventive measure. An at-home oral-care regimen takes patience and diligence, but is well worth the effort. Start slowly by first introducing your pet to a Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC)-approved flavored toothpaste, and gradually working up to brushing her teeth. Our veterinary team can guide you on recommended products, or you can browse here.  

Ready to jump-start your pet’s health and happiness in the New Year? Start with her annual examination by scheduling an appointment with us today.