Resolutions for Healthy Pets (and Pet Owners)

A new year brings the opportunity for a fresh beginning. We humans tend to make ambitious resolutions in January, promising big changes that mostly fall off as the weeks pass. You can make it easier on yourself — buddy up with your canine or feline companion to chase healthy habits together! 

A pet partner provides built-in motivation and accountability. Your furry friend will happily join you on the journey to better health in the new year. Take a look at this list of ideas and make resolutions that will benefit both you and your pet. 

Increase Physical Activity

Exercise is one resolution that people quit pretty quickly. But with your enthusiastic canine companion or playful feline by your side, moving will be more fun and rewarding. Make room in your schedule every day for an active play or exercise session with your pet. Start slowly and don’t overdo it for either of you. 

Take dogs on daily walks, and work up to making some of them more challenging, like hiking trails instead of neighborhood strolls. Try a 5K walk/run event created especially for people and their pups. Play fetch at the park or in the backyard. Many pools offer special doggie swim times. 

A dog and cat pondering their resolutions.

Consider a doga (dog yoga) class that incorporates pet massage and poses. Waltz and
twirl with your pup at doggy dancing lessons. Take swimming classes! Or try directing your dog’s energy into obstacle courses with agility training.

For cats, use interactive toys like feather wands to get your furry acrobat sprinting and leaping. Find toys that encourage chasing and pouncing. Build DIY obstacle courses with cardboard boxes and tunnels. But if you want to literally think outside the box, train your cat to walk on a leash and harness so you can explore the outdoors together.

Physical activity stimulates the mind and body for pets and people alike. Learning and playing together builds trust and satisfaction. And as a bonus, it strengthens the bond between you and your best friend. Just remember to consult your vet to be sure any new activity is safe for your pet’s abilities and health.

Practice Mindful Eating

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Monitoring food portions and nutrition is another common resolution, but a tricky one to maintain alone. With your pet’s help, you can develop mindful eating habits together. 

For both cats and dogs, choose quality foods over cheap varieties packed with mystery ingredients. Avoid unnecessary fillers, byproducts, and artificial preservatives. Read labels carefully. For homemade food, consult your vet on healthy recipes. 

Measure out proper serving sizes for your pet to avoid overfeeding. Cats in particular have a tendency to become overweight quickly. Resist the urge to give too many treats or table scraps.

Schedule Regular Checkups

Preventative healthcare is its own reward. Schedule an annual exam with your own doctor and your pet’s veterinarian. Perform necessary bloodwork and screenings, update vaccines, and get dental cleanings. This provides peace of mind that any developing health issues can be caught early.

To make vet visits less stressful, work on positive training techniques throughout the year. Desensitize your pet to having ears, teeth, and paws handled. Cats and dogs should learn to accept restraint positioning and being placed on exam tables. Reward good behavior generously during vet visits.

Annual exams allow doctors to establish baselines for your pet’s health and note any changes year over year. For senior pets, biannual checkups are a good idea to monitor aging. Preventative care leads to a better quality of life for your furry companion.

Master First Aid Skills 

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Do you know what to do if you or your pet starts choking? Or how to respond to a severe allergic reaction? Emergencies can happen anytime; being prepared with some first aid knowledge could save your pet’s life.

Look for pet first aid classes in your area or online. You’ll learn skills like administering CPR, controlling bleeding, treating wounds, and responding to common emergencies like heat stroke. Assemble a first aid kit for your home and car. Know what first aid items can be used for your pet.

Take a basic first aid course for human emergencies. At minimum, learn how to perform the Heimlich maneuver, stop bleeding, treat cuts and burns, and respond if someone is unresponsive or needs CPR. Knowing what to do in a crisis can reduce panic and provide the quick assistance that can make a real difference.

Stimulate Brains 

While physical exercise is important, mental stimulation is also crucial for people and pets. Reserve time each day for brain-engaging activities to strengthen cognitive abilities and stave off mental decline.

Give dogs interactive puzzle toys that dispense treats or kibble as they learn to move sliders, lift flaps, and roll balls. Try new commands during training sessions, along with tricks to keep pup engaged. Let your dog put that superb sense of smell to work finding hidden treats with tracking games.

Cat parents can try puzzle feeders that make earning meals an activity. Hone kitty’s natural hunting skills with toys that encourage stalking and pouncing, and set up a bird feeder outside a window for them to focus on. You can even train your furball to perform tricks using a clicker.

As for your own cerebral skills, build mental muscle with word and number games, memory exercises, challenging reading material, and educational podcasts or documentaries. Staying sharp mentally pays off at every age.

Expand Your Social Circle

People and pets alike benefit from positive social interaction in their lives. Spending time alone can become isolating, whereas time with others boosts mood and mental health. 

Use your friendly, outgoing dog as a social springboard when you’re out and about. Chat with other pet parents you meet at the dog park or out walking. Join a local dog hobby group or rescue organization where you can bond over your shared enthusiasm for canines.

For our seemingly reserved cats, schedule one-on-one lap time and play sessions. And cats can also benefit from careful socialization. Try supervised visits with cat-friendly friends and family. Want Socks to make new feline friends? Check out cat cafés that let cats mingle safely. 

As for yourself, seek out group activities that interest you, such as volunteering, taking a class, joining a club, or attending community events. Make an effort to deepen existing relationships as well as form new ones.

Save Up for Emergencies

Setting money aside can be difficult, but a little financial security can bring peace of mind if you’re facing unexpected costs. If you’re able to, open a dedicated savings account for pet emergencies.

Even with preventative vet care, a dog or cat can incur medical expenses from injuries, illnesses, or accidents. And as pets age, health issues often develop — and chronic conditions can require ongoing treatment. Having an emergency fund provides security that you can always give your companion the care they need. 

Knowing your furry friend’s wellbeing depends on you is real motivation, and having the fund reduces your stress and worry. Try to save an amount that would cover 6 months of your current pet care costs. If you automate small transfers, the contributions build consistently and slowly, and before long, you’ll have enough to rest easy.

Help Shelter Animals

Giving back provides a sense of purpose, and helping shelter animals connects with your love for your own pet. Look for opportunities to volunteer, donate, or otherwise assist rescue groups and shelters in your community.

You can sign up to walk dogs to help them exercise and socialize. Bathe and brush animals to make them more adoptable. Transport pets to vet appointments. Make toys or blankets to provide comfort.

You can also donate new or unused pet supplies, such as crates, beds, leashes, litter boxes, etc. Contribute money or purchase items off the shelter’s wishlist. Your employer might even match monetary donations.

If your pet was adopted from a shelter, nothing shows appreciation like supporting the organization that brought you and your furry friend together. Many shelters face overcrowding, so if you’re able, it’s a huge help to foster an animal until a forever home is found or they’re reunited with their owner.

Healthy Days Ahead

Honestly, there’s no reason to wait until a new year starts to make resolutions. Exploring healthy improvements for yourself and your canine or feline pal is always a great idea. The important thing is to take gradual, informed steps toward better habits. With your pet by your side, happy and full of life, every year will be your best year yet!

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1 thought on “Resolutions for Healthy Pets (and Pet Owners)”

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