Resolve to Make a New Year’s Resolution for your Animal Companion

By: Jessie L. Rayburn, CVT

We are all familiar with the concept of the New Year’s Resolutions. Most resolution goals are centered around the betterment of our physical, mental or emotional well-being. This year, our four-legged family members can join us on the road to a better self!

Perhaps the most common New Year’s resolution in the human world revolves around exercise, diet, and weight. While we can go to the gym or create a dietary plan, our pets rely on us to control their nutrition and activity. Daily physical activity is the gold standard and an admirable goal to try and reach, for you and your pet. Remember, this doesn’t have to be an hour-long play session with your cat or a backpacking day trip with your dog. Even 30 minutes of play time a day can make a big difference in your pet’s health. Your daily activity can be as simple as playing with a toy in the house or yard, or a casual stroll around the block. Your animal companion will appreciate being active with you and it will help strengthen the human-animal bond you share.

Nutritional intake and weight can be improved in many ways. Ask your vet if you are feeding a quality brand food with ingredients high in nutritional value. Consider your pet’s breed and ask your vet for your pet’s ideal weight range. If your “tub of love” is perhaps a bit too tubby or needs to put on a little muscle mass, there are a lot of things you can change to help get them back on track. Portion control is the biggest area to investigate. Many owners are feeding the incorrect amount, and are unaware of how much their pet should actually be fed in a day. Make sure you are using a measuring cup (not a random cup from the cupboard) and following the portion guidelines for your pet’s particular brand of food. If your pet falls within their weight range, you can still make small tweaks to better your pet’s nutrition. Switching to veterinary approved or homemade treats can also be a fun way to improve your companion’s dietary intake and broaden their palate.

Our physical bodies aren’t the only thing we can improve to reach a higher state of well-being; mental and emotional vitality are crucial for our pet’s health and happiness. Rotate through a variety of toys to avoid boredom; there are many treat/puzzle toys that are excellent for stimulating cognition. This applies to our pocket pet and exotic friends too! As for the emotional side of things, just making an effort to include our animal friends in our daily lives makes them feel content and included in the “pack”. Pausing for a five minute ear scratch or belly rub can go a long way. (These momentary snuggle breaks in your day, have been shown to calm and relax your state of mind as well!)

Some other small resolutions that can have a big impact on your pet’s new year are:

  • Giving regular monthly preventatives
  • Keeping up with their husbandry needs (nail trims, grooming, etc.)
  • Fitting in their annual physical exam/vaccines
  • Being mindful of their oral health

Here is a New Year’s resolution tip to ponder as you say hello to 2020. If you and your four-legged companion share a similar aspect of your well being that you wish to strengthen or improve, it is always easier to stick with a resolution when you are working with a partner and buddy! Here’s to a happy, healthy, and enriched 2020 from the Neffsville family to yours!

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