New Year resolutions
by Erin E. Newport, DVM
Every year at this time, it is customary to think about how we can improve our lives. This self reflection typically leads to New Year resolutions that we intend to stringently follow. However, without proper motivation or support, our best intentions usually end up taking a back seat to hectic schedules, deadlines and comfortable couches. This year, involve your beloved pet in your New Year resolutions. Your furry friend can supply the motivation and support and you can supply the leadership.
Weight problems often go hand-in-hand with inactive lifestyles. Carrying a heavier load can increase the likelihood of tearing ligaments and wearing down extra stress on joints which leads to pain. When that happens, an animal won't want to exercise which only enhances the weight problem. If you have a dog, take him on daily walks. Running is good exercise too, but should be done in moderation because concrete is tough on paws. Some alternatives to concrete include hiking trails or other soft surfaces. Remember, a novice runner wouldn't run five miles the first day out, so don't expect that of your pet.
Exercising isn’t just for the dogs; all animals need to be active. Cats are designed for short, frequent periods of intense activity, rather than longer, slower-paced exercise sessions. Keep your kitty entertained with items that they can bat, chase, explore, or scratch. Scratching is an important feline exercise because it stretches and tones the muscles in your cat's shoulders and back. A scratching post can keep them active without shredding your sofa.
Different pets need different amounts of exercise, so you’ll want to talk to your veterinarian before starting your pet’s workout program. With your veterinarian’s approval, you can embark on an exercise program that won’t seem like work at all--to your pet, its play.
Monitoring the Calories
Obesity is a major health issue affecting US pets. By strictly following your veterinarian’s recommended diet for your pet (portions and treats), your pet will avoid additional health issues related to obesity. Instead of free feeding, try measuring specific portions to be fed throughout the day Additionally, you will save money on food by not over-feeding your pet. Please consult your veterinarian about a diet specifically suited for your pet.
Visiting the Veterinarian
The annual wellness exam is the most overlooked pet health need today. Many people only take their pet to a veterinarian when a health problem arises. Preventive vaccinations and early detection of diseases are the keys to a long healthy life for your pet. Your veterinarian can conduct a comprehensive exam that includes a lab analysis, heart check, and dental exam. If you're starting an exercise program for an older dog, consider having him examined by a veterinarian first. Your pet's doctor will look at his health history, listen to his heart, check for weight gain, and possibly do blood work.
Happy New Year!
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