Healthy and Happy Pets in the New Year

Did you make any resolutions for your furry friend at the start of the New Year? Create a plan to provide your pet with a healthier and more active life for 2022 by improving his diet, exercise, and mental stimulation. Always check with your vet before you begin a new diet for your four-legged friend.

For people and pets, the key to successful New Year’s resolutions is setting small goals and coming up with a plan to meet those goals.

When making resolutions for your pet ,make sure to schedule their annual veterinarian check up. Making an appointment for a vet visit is a small, actionable step, which could mean a world of difference for your pet’s health.

“A yearly checkup will not only keep them up to date on their vaccines, but also makes it a lot easier to catch any potential health issues that may be emerging. The earlier an issue is discovered, generally the easier it is to treat,” said Dr. Mark Primiano, one of The Anti-Cruelty Society's staff veterinarians. 

Resolving to lose weight is one of the most common goals people set, and the start of a new year presents an excellent opportunity to make changes to achieve your pet’s ideal weight. Overweight dogs and cats can experience multiple health problems, and pet owners have a responsibility to best maintain their pet’s weight for their long term health.

“Consult with your vet to ensure your pet is at an optimal weight. Being too far off in either direction can have a significant negative impact on their health. Making sure your pet gets enough exercise can pay off with multiple benefits. Exercise can help manage their weight more easily while also keeping them appropriately entertained and stimulated," said Dr. Primiano.

One resolution which will benefit you and your pet is providing more exercise and play time. Physical enrichment and social play is critical for the well-being of both cats and dogs, and helps reduce stress and frustration. Getting outside during the winter may be difficult, but there are plenty of ways to keep your pet engaged and active inside the home. 

For dogs:

  • Make feeding or snack time a game by using scent training or obedience commands to make your dog work for his food rather than just diving into a bowl of kibble. 
  • Work on training and commands to turn regular playtime into a brain-engaging exercise.
  • Stimulate your canine companion’s brain with a food puzzle. If your dog has a habit of eating too fast, these puzzles and special bowls will also help slow them down. 
  • If you have room, play a game of "gentle" fetch indoors or blow children's bubbles to get your pup moving.

For cats:

  • Play with your adult cat at least 15 minutes, twice a day, and 30 minutes, two times a day for your kitten. Instead of longer sessions, break play time into  5- to 10-minute increments. 
  • Make sure your feline has enough toys, and places to perch, hide, scratch, and climb.
  • Set up a place for your cat to perch near a window to allow different visual experiences. Place bird feeders and plants outside to attract wildlife. 
  • Utilize a toy or food puzzle to mimic a cat’s hunting routine as they catch their “prey” and eat their prize. 

With a little planning and care, you and your pet can achieve a happier and better quality of life in 2022. For additional tips and articles, visit The Anti-Cruelty Society’s Pet Library