Have you ever thought about making New Year’s resolutions for your pet? Well, while you make up your list of resolutions for 2019, make one for your furry family member too.
Lucky for them, our pets aren’t bothered by self-improvement projects and probably think they are perfect just the way they are. Even so, a couple of special resolutions for pets might bring a full year of benefits for the whole family.
Resolution #1 – Keeping fit while having fun and getting lots of love and attention.
Dogs love walks and playing. Taking your dog for daily walks, twice a day if possible, and playing with your dog is not only good exercise for you and your dog, it is also a good bonding activity for the whole family.
While cats may not enjoy a walk on a leash, they love playing. Playing with your cat for at least 15 minutes a few times a day, helps kitty to get some exercise too. Instead of sitting on the couch with a laser pointer, run around with your cat dragging a string behind you. This way you will both get some exercise.
Playtime is also a good time to teach your pet some new tricks and practice the ones he already knows. Mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise.
While these activities are forms of attention, it is the small things that mean the most. Stroke you pet while watching T.V. or reading, talk to you pet while washing the dishes or even just stroking your pet when you walk past him, means more than you may think.
Resolution #2 – Feed your pet a healthy diet and measure the food every time.
Feed your dog/cat food that is appropriate for his breed, age and size, e.g. a 6 month old Labrador puppy should eat a “Large breed Puppy” food and a 7 year old cat should eat a cat food for “Senior/Mature” cats. If your pet was placed on a “Prescription Diet” by the vet, do not change the food without consulting your vet first.
Always measure your pet’s food to make sure he gets the right amount. Simply guessing how much is enough could lead to overfeeding and weight gain. Keep treats to one a day and only give pet-friendly treats not table scraps.
Resolution #3 – Watch the weight!
Obesity in pets, as in humans, can lead to a long list of illnesses/diseases. Overfeeding, too many treats, feeding table scraps and lack of exercise can all lead to weight gain and if left unchecked, lead to obesity.
Sticking to resolutions 1 and 2 will help keep you pet’s weight under control.
Resolution #4 – Regular health checks
Taking your pet to the vet for regular health checks is good way to stay ahead of potential health problems. An annual examination from nose to tail will be less costly than waiting for a problem to develop. Pets that are on chronic treatment/medication may need a check-up more often.
It is also important to keep your pet’s vaccinations and deworming treatments up to date.
Resolution #5 – Keep them safe and identifiable.
Keeping your pet safe and secure is important.
Chemicals and poisons should be stored out of your pet’s reach and pets should be kept away and out of the area it was used on/in.
Walls/fences and gates should be high enough so they cannot climb over, secure enough so they cannot climb through and gates should lock properly so they cannot open them. If you have an indoor pet, make sure the doors and windows are secure so that your pet cannot slip out, and in cases where unwanted feline visitors come in, cannot get in.
Always provide outdoor pets with proper shelter from the elements, enough shade in summer from the hot sun and plenty of fresh, cool water. Don’t leave pets in the car, especially on hot days!
ID tags/microchips could help to get your pet home if lost. Pet ID tags can be purchased at any Pet Shop, Vetshop, Veterinary Clinic or even in the pet food section of some supermarkets. These tags can be easily attached to your pet’s collar. A microchip is inserted under the skin and can be detected by a microchip scanner. Animal Shelters, Veterinary Clinics and most Animal Welfare Organisations are equipped with scanners. Remember to keep the information on the ID tag/microchip updated.
Resolution #6 – Grooming
Regular grooming – bathing, nail clipping, brushing the coat, brushing teeth and parasite control – not only make your pet more pleasing to be around, it is also healthier for your pet.
A nice bath once a months with a pet-friendly shampoo should be sufficient. You can also use pet-friendly deodorant he help keep that “doggy smell” away.
Brushing your dog/cat’s coat regularly helps to remove excess fur, distribute the oils and is a good bonding activity.
Parasite control should be done once a month to help keep fleas and ticks under control.
Resolution #7 – Maintenance
This refers to the more “unpleasant” aspects of pet care: picking up your dog’s poop/cleaning kitty’s litter box every day, washing water and food bowls daily, washing you pet’s blankets and bedding regularly. A clean environment for your pet is a healthy one!
Resolution #8 – Address those behaviour problems
Identify those behaviour problems and address them one at a time, from begging for food at the table to urinating in the house. You can either consult a professional Animal Behaviourist or purchase a training manual written by a professional Behaviourist/Trainer.
Being consistent is very important. Allowing something the one moment and not the next will confuse your pet and make training your pet very frustrating for both of you.
New year’s resolutions from your pet’s perspective
- I will try to stay out of the cat’s litter box, even though it’s a lot of fun and drives the cat crazy.
- I promise not to steal food as much, although all bets are off if they make it really easy for me.
- My head does not belong in the refrigerator, although it is a really cool place.
- I promise not to lick my human’s face after licking my butt.
- I promise to stop barking at the garbage collector, he is not stealing our stuff.
- I’ll try not to exercise my authority over the mailman and other delivery people, although my self-esteem does get a boost when they retreat.
- I promise not to perch on my human’s chest in the middle of the night and stare into her eyes until she wakes up.
- I won’t be tempted to swot my human’s head repeatedly while she is doing sit-ups on the floor.
- When it rains, it will be raining on all sides of the house. It is not necessary to check every door and window.
- When my human is typing on the computer, her forearms are not a hammock.
- The goldfish likes living in water and should be allowed to remain in its bowl.
- I cannot leap through closed windows to catch birds outside. If I forget this and bonk my head on the window and fall behind the couch in my attempt, I will not get up and do the same thing again.