Seasonal Care

10 New Year Don'ts

Pet Owner and Dog

The New Year is a time to refresh your daily routine and habits. While thinking through ways to improve your day-to-day, consider these 10 tips to improve your pet's health and wellness and start the year off on the right paw.

1. Don't Buy Junk Food

The New Year is the perfect opportunity to rethink your diet. Consider it a family affair and explore better ways for your pet to get their nutrients as well. Your veterinarian can recommend a dog or cat food that is nutritionally balanced and appropriate for your pet's life stage and activity level. Many pet owners love to supplement their pet's food with treats, however, treats are often low in nutritional value. Be sure to limit extra calories and consider treats within their overall nutritional plan. A great alternative to pre-made treats are certain fresh fruits, vegetables and lean meats, like carrots, green beans, apple slices or even left-over rotisserie chicken. Your veterinarian is a great source of knowledge when it comes to knowing what your pet can and cannot eat. Review this cheat sheet on what foods dogs can and cannot safely eat with your pet's veterinarian before feeding them anything other than their pet food.

2. Don't Skip Walks

The holiday season can be an excuse to skip our healthy habits, but it's important for you and your furry friend to get back into a regular exercise routine. There's no better way to kick off your New Year's resolution of getting into shape than daily walks with your dog or cat. Yes, some cats love walks too! So give it a try. Not only will you both get the exercise you need, you will spend quality time bonding together, too.

Dog walking in park with pet parent

3. Don't Skip Vet Appointments

Having a healthy pet takes more than eating well and exercising. Be sure to take the time this year to schedule regular checkups for your pet. It's the perfect time to ask your veterinarian questions and ensure that your pet is in their best health, including checking on annual vaccines and year-round preventatives for heartworm, fleas and ticks. If your pet experiences fleas and ticks, talk to your veterinarian to see if a product like Bravecto® is right for your dog or cat.

4. Don't Miss Out on Quality Time with Your Pet

Our schedules can get busier during the holidays. As we begin to get back into our daily routines, be sure to schedule time for playing with your pet every day. Taking the time to play and cuddle will create a stronger bond between the two of you.

5. Don't Think Learning New Things Is Impossible

Everyone's heard the phrase, "you can't teach an old dog new tricks". This year, break the rules and challenge your pet with learning something new. Sign up to for a class to learn a new sport or skill like agility, scent work, flyball or even dock diving. Something as simple as playing with a puzzle feeder teaches pets to think through a task and be rewarded with a treat. This kind of play helps with mental stimulation and can improve their intellectual wellness.

6. Don't Overlook Your Pet's Dental Hygiene

Just as we brush our teeth daily, it's important for our pets to have a good dental hygiene routine. Regular toothbrushing helps to keep tartar and bacteria away from our pets' teeth and gums. There are also many products such as dental diets, water additives and treats intended to help reduce plaque and keep pets' mouths clean. Of course, it's always best to schedule regular checkups with your veterinarian to keep your pet's pearly whites healthy.

7. Don't Discount the Benefits of Pet Insurance

Did you know that over 2 million pet parents had pet insurance last year1? Pet insurance can help save on veterinary costs and keep your best friend healthy. With many plans covering wellness visits, preventative vaccines and treatments, as well as major illnesses or injuries, pet insurance is an important consideration for you and your pet. Many companies help pet parents prepare for the unexpected by offering a variety plans to fit a pet's needs. Ask your veterinarian and other pet parents for advice on choosing an insurance provider, a coverage level and a plan makes sense for you and your pal.

8. Don't Forget to Clean Your Pet's Toys and Bedding

The New Year is a great time to get your home in order. While tidying up around the house, don't forget about your furry friend's space. Vacuum crumbs and wash their bedding in hot temperatures to help with lingering dirt and dust and to kill any fleas hiding in their sheets. Another trick is to wash any hard items in the dishwater to easily sanitize toys and help keep your pet healthy. A quick cleaning of their bedding, toys and space will help you both start the New Year off right!

9. Don't Miss an Opportunity to Establish A Grooming Routine

There are many benefits to creating or refreshing your pet's grooming routine. A simple bath and brushing helps remove excess fur from their coat, which in turn lessens the amount of fur found around the house and on your clothing. It also helps distribute oils from the skin to their fur, which can keep their coat shiny and healthy. When brushing, keep an eye out for fleas and ticks that often burrow deep below your pet's coat looking for a good spot to bite your pet, take a bloodmeal and lay their eggs.

10. Don't Forget to Update Your Pet's ID

A lot can change in the course of a year! You may move or update your phone numbers, and with all the changes that may be going on, it's easy to forget to update your pet's tag and microchip information. Most of the time, pet parents only remember to update a pet's information once a pet has been lost. Take the New Year as an opportunity to update your pet's microchip information in the HomeAgain® National Pet Recovery Database and order a new tag to give your pet their best chance of coming home if they're ever lost.

REFERENCES

  1. https://naphia.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/NAPHIA-SOI-Report-Highlights-2018.pdf, page 8
  2. http://www.mypet.com/fleas-and-ticks/flea-life-cycle.aspx

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