It’s 2011! You may have a New Year’s resolution list for yourself, but 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:
Medical Resolutions for Your Pet
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, by preventing testicular cancer, mammary tumors and other diseases. It eliminates many undesirable behaviors and helps prevent animal overpopulation.
Get 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 fights 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.
Get a Urinalysis Test. 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 pets nails on your own, see your veterinarian or your groomer.
Brush Those Teeth. It may be difficult, but brushing your pet’s teeth just once a week will help prevent dental disease. You can ask your veterinarian to show you how. At the very least, offer your pet dental treats, such as CET chews that have a special enzyme formula to help prevent the buildup of plaque and bacteria.
Behavioral Resolutions for Your Pet
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 I highly suggest you do so.
Learn to Scratch in the Appropriate Places. Contrary to popular belief, cats can be trained. Having an appropriate scratching post is important. Make sure the scratching post is tall enough for your cat to stretch out full length on the vertical surface. I’ve gone through many scratching posts over the years and found that sisal posts are by far the best. This is the one and only post you’ll ever need: www.purrfectpost.com. 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 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 from which to choose.
Buy a Collar and ID Tag and/or Microchip Your Pet. According to the National Council on Pet Population Study, about one million stray dogs and half a million stray cats are turned into shelters across the nation each year. Unfortunately, only 15 percent of those dogs and a measly two percent of those cats are ever reunited with their owners. So make sure your pet is identifiable should he become lost.
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 needs to be walked at least once a day. Even if you can squeeze in only a 20-minute walk, it’s better than nothing! While cats don’t need the same level of exercise as dogs, enjoying regular play sessions with your cat will provide him with the physical exercise and mental stimulation he needs, as well as strengthen the bond you share. Try using a Cat Dancer with your cat for at least 10 minutes a day.
Poison-Proof Your Home. Pledge to make your home safe for your pet in 2011 by poison proofing your house. The most common cause of companion animal poisoning is from rodent poisons and insecticides, but there are other common everyday foods and products that can cause harm to your pet such as raisins, chocolate, and alcohol. For a complete listing of poison-proofing your home, check out a previous Pet Chat column.
By implementing these New Year’s resolutions, you and your pet will be sure to start 2011 on the right paw. Wishing you and your pet a happy and healthy New Year!
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