As the year comes to an end, we tend to instinctively think about the improvements we can make in our lives and how we can be better in the year to come. This New Year I propose to not only consider yourself, but your pet as well. I have put together this guide on how to keep your dog or cat healthy, happy and safe in 2013.
Trips to the Vet
At minimum you should take your pet to the vet once a year for an annual exam. Vaccines that are needed can be given at this time and any necessary blood work can be taken. Younger animals, older animals, or those with medical conditions may need more frequent visits. For example, the majority of your dog’s vaccines will be given in the first few years of life, meaning more vet trips during the puppy years. Consult with your veterinarian about vaccine schedules and routine visits to make sure you stay on track in the upcoming year.
Diet & Exercise
Most of us are guilty of looking at the New Year as the perfect starting point for a diet or exercise regimen. Why not take this opportunity to help your pet get fit in 2013 by making healthy changes to their diet and incorporating more fitness into their days.
The easiest way to improve your dog or cat’s diet is by doing some simple research on the pet food and treats you feed them. Are the ingredients wholesome and nutritious or is your pet food muddled with chemicals and preservatives? (My recent series What is Your Pet Eating? can offer more insight on this topic.)
As important as diet is exercise. All pets, young to old, need some form of physical activity. How much depends on his or her breed, age, size, and health condition, but every pet can benefit from a little bit every day. Walking, swimming, jogging, and playing games are just a few of the ways to get your pet moving. Swimming is the lowest impact activity, which means it’s safe for almost everyone, even those with limited mobility.
You would be surprised at how many things in your home and around your property can be hazardous to your pet. (I’m sure a few of you have discovered this season that your pet has a palette for Christmas tree ornaments…) Save yourself and your pet from a horrible ordeal by taking similar precautions that you would with a small child. Below you’ll find a few easy tips:
• Baby safety gates are excellent in blocking off dangerous areas of your home (or shielding your Christmas tree, for example).
• Cable clips can help compile wires or place them in discreet places where your animal won’t be tempted to investigate them.
• Outdoor floor lighting (or simply carrying a flashlight) can help illuminate areas when you take your pet out after dark. This will help you avoid an unexpected visit from a poisonous frog or friendly snake.
At the end of the day you know your pet better than anyone and are aware of which parts of his or her life could most benefit from improvement. I hope these tips aid in you making 2013 the best year for you and your pet. Happy New Year