It’s 2011! You may have made 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

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 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.

Get a urinalysis 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 claws trimmed when 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.

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

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, I highly suggest you do so.

For Cats:

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. If all else fails, check into Soft Paws®, rubber caps that fit over the cat’s nails and prevent destructive scratching.

Resolutions for the Person Pertaining to Your Pet’s Overall Well-Being

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 in to shelters across the nation each year. Unfortunately, only 15 percent of those dogs and a measly 2 percent of those cats are ever reunited with their owners. So make sure your pet is identifiable should he become lost.

Set aside, each day, time for exercise and play 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 to help you poison-proof your home, check out this previous Pet Chat column.

By implementing these New Year’s resolutions, you and your pet will be sure to start the new year on the right paw. Wishing you and your pet a happy and healthy 2011!



Klondike is a most magnificent 3-year-old neutered male Malamute, 72 lbs.
 Typical of the Nordic breeds he can be somewhat independent and reserved,
 quite gentlemanly, so if you want a dog who is continually jumping in your 
face demanding attention, this is not the dog for you. He is a big strong 
dog, but is very gentle and accommodating with humans; when he plays with 
other dogs he is almost always in a play bow. He will be an extremely loyal
 dog to his person. The breed is clean and odorless and does not bark.
 Because of his intelligence and strength, he needs an experienced dog owner 
who he will accept as alpha.

DAWG (Dog Adoption and Welfare Group) is a no-kill, not-for-profit dog rescue/adoption organization located at 5480 Overpass Road in Goleta. For more information, please call: (805) 681-0561. You can view more adoptable dogs at The public is invited to stop by and look around every day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. DAWG relies on volunteers to take care of all the dogs, so if you love dogs, think about volunteering! Students are able to fulfill their volunteer community service requirement by volunteering. Volunteer orientations are generally held every other Saturday at 10 a.m. Please contact DAWG for the next meeting.


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