7 Ways to Keep Your Pet Healthy This Year

It’s a brand new year with all sorts of possibilities on the horizon for you and your pet. The new year is often a time of reflection and goal-setting, and a resolution to improve your pet's health this year should be amongst your plans for 2021. Keeping your pet healthy can be easier than you think, but like many other resolutions, it may sometimes require establishing new habits and sticking with them. With your pet’s best interest in mind, creating new and healthier habits for your dog or cat should be motivation enough. Plus, you will find some benefits for you and your family as well! Here are 7 ways to keep your pet healthy this year.

Large cat plays with toy on the floor.

1. Keep the weight off.

Maintaining or losing weight isn’t a goal that’s limited to people; it applies to pets, too! It’s essential to keep your pets lean and in a weight range appropriate to their breed and species. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy for some pet parents to scoop food into the pet bowl without measuring amounts and offer additional treats to their pets throughout the day. After a while, those extra helpings and treats add up.

Weight gain can lead to multiple long-term health problems, including obesity,  joint disease, diabetes, liver disease, respiratory disease, and heart disease amongst others. Help your pet stay healthy and avoid these medical conditions in the future by establishing a healthy baseline with the assistance of your veterinarian. Your vet can also determine your pet’s Body Condition Score and give you advice on how your dog or cat can lose or maintain weight usually by adjusting your pet’s food intake and activity level.

2. Exercise your pet regularly.

Speaking of activity, your dog and cat require it to be physically and mentally happy. Regular exercise allows your pet’s cardiovascular system to stay fit, prevents obesity, and may decrease their risk of cancer. 

Exercise and activity also provide the mental stimulation your pets need to be emotionally happy by lowering their stress levels, improving mental stamina, and allowing them to burn off excess energy that may affect their behavior. (Zoomies, anyone?) Additionally, you’ll get some exercise, which is a benefit to your health as well. After all, your pets depend on you, so you want to stay healthy so you can continue to be their pet parent as long as possible. 

Create an exercise routine for you and your dog. Walk around the neighborhood, in parks or on trails, or in the backyard to provide enrichment for your pup. If you live in inclement areas, consider using a treadmill for walking their dog. If you are a cat parent, don’t leave the kitties out of all the fun! Cats need exercise and mental stimulation, too, and some regular exercise can keep them slim and trim as well. Focus on evening activities, as cats’ nocturnal natures typically promote bursts of energy at these times. Use moving toys to appeal to the cat’s hunting instincts, crinkle or other noise-producing toys, laser toys or toy wands to keep your cat leaping and playing and relaxing contentedly afterwards.

3. Take your pet to the vet.

A pet can stay healthy year-round when her pet parent takes her for a veterinary examination at least once a year. Regular wellness exams for pets are important as physicals and dental appointments are for people. Taking a pet to the veterinarian can pose problems raging from pet behavior to transportation issues to cost. Unfortunately, without regular check-ups, your pet may begin to develop a medical condition that isn’t diagnosed until it’s too late. 

Speak with your veterinarian about how to resolve your particular difficulty in getting her to a clinic. If you are worried about cost, consider purchasing a pet insurance policy that covers wellness visits to make the process more affordable for you and your family.

4. Purchase a pet insurance policy.

One of the best ways to make sure your pet stays healthy or has the best coverage possible in case of an emergency or accident is to purchase a pet insurance policy. With various companies offering insurance levels, you can find one that covers what your pet needs at a price you can afford. 

Not sure what pet insurance entails or how it works? Check out “Pet Insurance Explained” for an overview on pet insurance. Then, get a free, personalized quote for your pet from a variety of companies. Many pet insurance companies offer multi-pet policies, so you can make sure all your furkids are covered, and you can enjoy some peace of mind.

Chocolate lab looks adoringly at his owner.

5. Brush those teeth.

Dental disease is amongst the most common medical issues in pets, with 85% of all pets having some form of this disease by age 3. Make brushing your dog or cat’s pearly whites a priority this year because it will make their lives healthier down the road. If possible, have your pet’s teeth professionally cleaned by your veterinarian. Plus, you’ll have better-smelling breath in your face for pup and kitty kisses!

Untreated dental diseases can become extremely painful for a pet and typically involve tooth extraction, an expensive procedure. Additionally, bacteria from oral infections will travel into your pet’s bloodstream, leading to kidney, liver, or heart disease and potentially shortening the length of your pet’s life by 3 to 5 years. Don’t wait! Start brushing your dog or cat’s teeth today.

6. Feed your pet a high-quality diet.

The food your pet eats will influence her present and future health. Feeding your pet a high quality diet has positive impacts on her well-being and health. Pets whose diet consists of quality ingredients tend to lead to longer lives with fewer medical conditions and diseases. 

Commercialized food that is cheaply made and comprises fillers, mystery meats, and chemicals can lead to serious medical issues for your pet, including diabetes, obesity, cancer, gastrointestinal illnesses, heart disease, and pancreatitis. While this food tends to be highly affordable, you will be paying much more in the future for your pet’s medicines, surgeries, and general health. Have a conversation with your veterinarian about the best diet for your cat or dog and make the switch for your pet’s sake.

A pet parent high-fives her dog.

 

7. Give them plenty of quality time with you.

Our world is full of constant stressors and little time to reflect on daily life. Let your pet help guide you to dedicate time each day to her company. Not only do pets help lower their owner’s stress levels and improve mental health, but they also provide friendship and an emotional, supportive bond. You do the same for your pet, who looks to you for comfort, security, and love. As busy and hectic as the world can be, remember that your pet loves the time present in your company. Find the room in your daily schedule to be with your pet, and you both will feel happier and healthier.

Paws up for a happy and healthy year!

It’s a new year, and you want to make it the best one possible for your pet. Focus on health, wellness, and happiness for your dog or cat, and your pet will love you for it. So grab that leash and head out the door with your pet toward a better, healthier future.

References

  1. Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital. (2019). Pet Obesity is a Growing Problem. Retrieved from http://csu-cvmbs.colostate.edu/vth/small-animal/community-practice/Pages/pet-obesity.aspx
  2. Reed, J. (2021). Fit or Fat: YourPet’s Body Condition Score. Retrieved from https://www.thedrakecenter.com/services/pets/blog/fit-or-fat-your-pets-body-condition-score-bcs
  3. Fox Valley Animal Hospital. (2018). Maintaining pet health: Mental stimulation matters to your family pet. Retrieved from https://foxvalleyanimalhospital.com.au/mental-stimulation-pet-health/
  4. Ward, E. (2017). Walking the Dog: Tips for getting the most out of exercising your pooch. Retrieved from https://petobesityprevention.org/news/2017/1/2/walking-the-dog-tips-for-getting-the-most-out-of-exercising-your-pooch
  5. Becker, M. (2014). How to Exercise Your Overweight Cat. Retrieved from http://www.vetstreet.com/dr-marty-becker/how-to-exercise-your-overweight-cat
  6. MSD Animal Health. (2019). 7 Reasons Why Pet Owners May Avoid a Visit to Their Vet. Retrieved from  https://www.weare-family.com/en-ZA/reasons-pet-owners-avoid-the-vet/
  7. Your Whole Pet Vet Team. (2019). The Dangers of Dental Disease in Pets. Retrieved from https://www.thewholepetvet.com/blog/the-dangers-of-dental-disease-in-pets/
  8. Tayman, D. (2016). Sinking your teeth into pets’ dental health. Retrieved from https://www.baltimoresun.com/maryland/howard/howard-magazine/ph-mg-ho-pets-dental-health-20160601-story.html
  9. Bontempo. V. (2005). Nutrition and the Health of Dogs and Cats. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/7521562_Nutrition_and_Health_of_Dogs_and_Cats_Evolution_of_Petfood
  10. Mahaney, P. (2021). Pet Food: The Good, the Bad, and the Healthy. Retrieved from https://www.petsafe.net/learn/pet-food-the-good-the-bad-and-the-healthy
  11. Mental Health Foundation. n.d.). Pets and mental health. Retrieved from https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/p/pets-and-mental-health
  12. Fisher, T. (2020). Brain scans reveal what dogs really think of us. Retrieved from https://www.mic.com/p/brain-scans-reveal-what-dogs-really-think-of-us-16325834