A new year can be a new beginning, an opportunity for a fresh start. It’s often the time when we set personal goals for ourselves to achieve in the year ahead, goals that tend to be centred on your health and happiness. As pet owners, you have an advantage - you can get your cat and dog in on your new routine! It makes it more fun for you, can help both of you stay healthy and gives you a little “buddy” to keep you motivated! Especially on those days where you just aren’t feeling active. Together the two of you can make your resolutions a reality.
Walk the walk
Exercise is important for humans and pets alike. You continuously hear about how physical activity helps prevent obesity and its associated health problems in humans, but the same goes for our pets! In fact, pet obesity, which is on the rise and now affects over 40% of all pets, can be considered just as dangerous for them as it is for humans. Walking, running, and playing with your pet is a great way for both of you to keep active and healthy. Incorporate them into your preferred fitness routine and enjoy the benefits together, not to mention the bonding time! If you are just in the process of selecting a new pet, choose one whose activity needs match your own.
Curb the kibble
Like with people, obesity can lead to serious health problems, and can significantly shorten your pets’ life. Take control of both your diet and that of your pet’s. Ensure that they’re eating the proper amount for their breed and size, and that their food contains the right nutrients. Keep control of their calories by not feeding them table scraps. It becomes difficult to keep track of what and how much your pet is eating if they are fed from your table. At the same time, control your own portion sizes and unhealthy food intake. Feeding pets human food becomes more detrimental when the food itself is synthetic, fatty, or overly sweet. Use your judgement – if it’s not good for your body, it’s probably not good for your pet’s body either. Read more information on people food for pets or you can watch Dr. Chip’s video on the importance of your pet's diet.
Time for your checkup
Do you have an annual physical to check that your health is in order? Seeing a doctor can help you make sure that you’re healthy and on track with things such as your weight and diet. Your pet has similar needs. Make it easier on yourself and schedule both your checkup and your pet’s for the same day. That way it’s also easier for you to keep track of your vet visits and ensure that your pet is up to date with their appointments. Talk to your vet about how much food and physical activity is right for your pet. It will keep them up-to-date with vaccinations and helps catch any issues early on, making it better for treatment. Getting regular checkups is even more important for animals because they can’t communicate what they’re feeling. By waiting to take them to the vet until signs of illness begin to show, the options for recovery may be more invasive, and expensive.
Something as easy as drinking more water and keeping hydrated can have positive benefits to your health…and it’s the same for pets! Ensure that your pet always has fresh water available. It’s just as important for their health as it is for yours. This is especially important for cats, who are susceptible to urinary tract problems when they don’t get enough water. When you get a glass of water, check on your pet’s bowl too.
Thinking of joining a new club, gym, or group in the New Year? Pets get the same personal and physical stimulation from connecting with others as we do. Exposing them to other animals and people is not only physically healthy, but the socialization is very important to their mental health and happiness. By teaching them how to interact with other pets in public, you can prevent them from being aggressive or hostile. Take them to dog parks, training classes, or agility clubs, where both pet and owner get to enjoy a day away from the couch. Plus you get the chance to meet other dog owners. Remember, mental health is just as important as physical!
Pets are like us in many ways – they require a balanced diet, daily physical activity, and checkups with a healthcare professional to ensure that everything is in working order. Take the time to incorporate your pet into your resolutions and enjoy the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle together.
Watch this video to hear Dr. Chip discuss healthy diet choices and warnings for your pet.