With the New Year comes a clear slate, meaning you have the power to turn your days and habits into anything you want! This coming year, make your pet an active part of your day and an active part of your resolutions. Here’s a few things may want to plan and try out with your furry friend as 2021 gets closer:
A great debate among pet parents is Timed Feeding vs. Free Feeding. Timed feeding is when your pet is fed at set times throughout the day and the food is only available to them for a limited amount of time, whereas free feeding allows pets to wander to and from their food bowl whenever they like. The option you should choose depends totally on you and your pet’s preferences and lifestyles. However, in both cases - even timed feeding - it can be hard to stay mindful.
To be mindful of your pet’s eating, pay attention to two things: what you’re feeding them and how often you’re feeding them. It’s all too easy to pick up any pet food on the shelf of a store and call it a day. But if you’d really like to ensure your pet is receiving a nutritionally complete, balanced diet, you should be looking into choosing high quality, premium pet foods. Read into those labels and be sure you’re choosing one that provides all the necessary levels of protein, fiber, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, etc. Take into consideration if your pet has any medical conditions, sensitivities, allergies, digestive issues, whether they’ll enjoy wet vs. dry options, and of course, what flavor they’ll enjoy most! Once you’ve got the right pick, provide your pet with the right amount of it. If you feed them too much or too little, they may be at risk of becoming over or underweight. Check the details on the packaging, as they should guide you on how much to feed your cat or dog depending on their size and weight. Lastly, if your pet gobbles up their meal too quickly, have them eat out of a slow feed bowl. These bowls are created with a maze like design to help slow down your pet’s eating, decreasing the chance of tummy upsets.
Your pet loves walktime, but what they’ll love even more is a bit of variety in the exercise they receive. So don’t be scared to get creative! The exercise you enjoy can be very enjoyable to your companion, too, depending on their personality. Test out different forms of play and exercise, such as going for runs, swims in the pool or ocean, hikes, obedience or agility classes, etc.
Pet parents focus primarily on providing their pet with physical exercise, but mental stimulation is equally important. Your pet can get this in a number of ways. The first way is by purchasing them a new toy. Balls, disks, ropes, and stuffed animals are great, but try a puzzle toy. Puzzle toys usually have a sort of contraption, maze, or coverings that require your pet to work and actively seek out a hidden treat. Not only will your pet be delighted to get food out of the toy, but they’ll learn to work for it while sharpening their skills.
Another route for mental stimulation is to learn a new trick. Whether your dog is young or old, the saying “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is not necessarily true. It may be a bit more difficult, but still very feasible. A mix of basic and advanced tricks include the good ol’ “Sit,” “Stay,” “Down,” “Speak,” “Roll Over,” “Shake Paw,” “Play Dead,” and many more. Maybe you’d like to teach them how to close a door or retrieve the TV remote for you! The possibilities are endless. Make it a New Year project, be patient, and have fun with it.
Dental Care & Grooming
Grooming is often overlooked by pet parents. But it’s important for your pet’s appearance and health. Leaving your pet ungroomed, whether it be matted fur or too long of fingernails, can cause blood clotting and discomfort while walking. Make a plan for how often you’d like to dedicate time to taking care of your pet. Think about when and how much time they need for baths, nail trims, and brushing of the fur. Don’t leave out dental care, either! There are plenty of pet-friendly toothbrushes and toothpastes out there, as well as treats and chews designed to remove excess plaque and tartar buildup from the animal’s teeth. You want your pet to smile wider than ever for the New Year!
How often your dog or cat visits the vet depends on their age and medical conditions. A good rule of thumb would be to go at least once to twice a year, though your veterinarian can give you a better frequency and timeframe by suggesting when your next appointment should be. It might be easy to skip scheduling your pet, but it’s very important that you have them attend their routine check ups. It’s the quickest, easiest, most definite way to know what your pet’s current health status and condition is and if there may be something wrong that you weren’t aware of. The earlier you catch something the better.
Your dog or cat is your best friend and vice versa, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make some new friends! Making friends and socializing is important for both you and your furry friend. A surefire way to do this is by visiting a dog park. Your pooch can mingle and play with other canines and also receive some healthy attention from fellow animal lovers. Likewise, you get the opportunity to play with some new pups and chat with other pet owners. It’s a win-win!
Spend More Time Together
If you follow through with the above resolutions, you’re already following this one: spend more time together. It’s not enough to simply pet your dog or cat once a day. Incorporate them into your daily routine as much as you can, and when possible, go out of your way to plan trips around them. If you can safely, securely, comfortably bring them along for a car ride, to the pet store, the beach, a farm, etc, do it! They’ll appreciate the change of scenery and the extra time spent with you in a new environment. If that’s not doable, even just some extra time carved out throughout your day to cuddle, go for walks, and play with some toys can make the world of a difference to your pet. If there’s one resolution you focus on the most, let it be this one. Your pet deserves to know how important and essential they are to a happy new year for you.