Start the New Year With Resolutions for Your Pet

It’s almost 2008. You may have a New Year’s resolution list penciled out for yourself. What about for your pet? Does your dog need to lose a few pounds? How long has it been since your cat has been to the veterinarian? Here’s a list of New Year’s resolution suggestions for your pet:

Lisa Acho Remorenko

Medical Resolutions for Your Pet

Your Pet Should:

Get Spayed or Neutered. Female dogs and cats are spayed by removing their reproductive organs, and male dogs and cats are neutered by removing their testicles. In both cases the operation is performed while the pet is under anesthesia. Spaying or neutering helps your pet live longer, it eliminates many undesirable behaviors, plus it helps prevent animal overpopulation.

Have a Physical Exam. This head-to-tail exam thoroughly assesses your pet’s overall condition.

Get a Complete Blood Count. This test evaluates the status of your pet’s red and white blood cells, which transport oxygen and fight infections.

Get a Serum Biochemical Analysis. This group of tests examines the health of your pet’s kidneys and liver and screens for some cancers.

Have a Urinalysis Test Run. This test shows how well the kidneys are functioning. As pets age, it is important to keep a careful watch on the kidneys and whether there are any early signs of diabetes, early renal failure or other diseases.

Get Groomed. Although it is especially important to brush long-haired cats and dogs to prevent their hair from matting, even short-haired canines and felines need to be groomed to remove as much loose hair as possible. Talk to your veterinarian if you don’t know whether or not your pet needs to be professionally groomed.

Get Nails Trimmed. If possible start training your dog or cat to have her claws trimmed when they are young. The best time to trim is when your pet is relaxed or sleepy. Never try to trim after a stressful experience or an energetic round of play. If you don’t feel comfortable trimming your pet’s nails on your own, see your veterinarian or your groomer.

Behavioral Resolutions for Your Pet

For Dogs:

Learn to Walk Well on a Leash. The energy you project internally is the message you’re sending to your dog. Utilize your dog’s energy in a positive manner. If your dog doesn’t walk well on a leash and you haven’t read “Pack Leader” by Cesar Milan, you need to!

For Cats:

Learn to Scratch in the Appropriate Places. Contrary to popular belief, cats can be trained. Buying an appropriate scratching post is key. Make sure the scratching post is tall enough for your cat to stretch out full length on the vertical surface. If all else fails, check into Soft Paws®, rubber caps that fit over the cat’s nails and prevent destructive scratching.

Overall Well-Being Resolutions for You to do for Your Pet:

Buy a Dog or Cat Care Book. The best pet owner is an informed pet owner! “The New Natural Cat” by Anitra Frazier and “The Natural Dog: A Complete Guide for Caring Dog Lovers” by Mary L. Brennan and Norma Eckroate are two of my favorites. Bookstores have entire sections on just pets, so there are many to choose from.

Buy a Collar and ID tag. Make sure you can put 2 fingers between the collar and your pet’s neck. If you have a cat the collar should be a “quick release” collar, or one that can slide off if your cat gets hung up on something. And finally, the ID tag should include your name, address, and telephone number.

Set Aside Exercise and Play Time With Your Dog and Cat Each Day. Even if you have a small dog or a fenced in yard, your dog still needs to be walked at least once a day. While cats do not need the same level of exercise that dogs do, enjoying regular play sessions with your cat will provide him with the physical exercise and mental stimulation he needs. Play time with cats will also strengthen the bond that you share together. Try using a Cat Dancer® with your cat for at least 10 minutes a day.

By planning now, you and your pet will be sure to start 2008 on the right paw!

Lisa Acho Remorenko is the executive director of Animal Adoption Solutions.

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