The New Year invokes a time of reflection and setting intentions for the upcoming year. We know how busy life can get between all of our commitments and responsibilities, and it can be easy to lose track of the nuances of what’s going on in our pet’s lives.
As pet owners ourselves, we are revisiting what we feel are important aspects of being a pet parent. Here is our list of 10 New Year’s Resolutions to be better pet parents:
1. Measure food.
Measuring your pet’s food can have a lot of benefits. When you measure your pet’s food, you are able to quantify how much they are eating and can keep him/her trim and slim. Pet obesity is a hefty problem and just like with humans, the first place to evaluate is the food. Measuring your pet’s food can also help you gauge when you need to get more food (no more emergency food runs!) and can help you budget pet expenses.
2. Exercise Together
Just like watching food intake, exercise is critical to maintaining a fit pet. Exercising together not only gets you both moving and grooving, it is a great time to bond and get some fresh air together. Routine walks are great, but what about mixing it up and going on a hike or enjoying some doga (yes, dog yoga you can do at home!).
3. Get micro chipped.
Did you know that 1 in 3 pets will become lost at some point in their life? The statistics are staggering for lost pets, but having your pet microchipped can help get them back home. A microchip is implanted under the pet’s skin between the shoulder blades. When your pet is lost and is brought to an animal shelter or animal hospital, they will be scanned for a microchip. The microchip has a number that can be looked up in the microchip company’s database (or sometimes even Google) and can provide us with the owner’s name, phone number, and address.
4.Update your information.
If your phone number, email address, or mailing address has changed, it is important to update your information with your microchip company, veterinarian, groomer, and pet sitter/pet daycare. If you do not update your information with the company that your pet’s microchip is registered with, the microchip is not able to do its job. There have been so many instances of lost pets being brought to us, and their phone number is no longer valid. Also, updating your contact information with Caring Hands will ensure that you receive your pet’s vaccine reminders, pet food recalls, and other important information.
5. Get your groom on.
Grooming is such an important aspect of the human-animal bond. The key is to start early and often. Brushing your pet’s coat can be a calming activity if done routinely. Another good habit is to get them used to their feet being touched. This makes trimming nails at home or at the vet or groomer that much easier and less stressful.
One of the most important grooming activities is brushing teeth. No we are not kidding! Getting your pet used to teeth brushing will help this become a fun and delicious (with chicken flavored toothpaste) habit for your pet. Dental health is just as important in pets as it is in humans. Dental disease in pets can lead to infection and abscesses in the mouth, as well as affect the heart, liver, and kidneys.
6. Visit the vet.
To make sure your pet is healthy, annual exams are key. Twice yearly exams become increasingly important the older your pet gets. It is in animal’s nature to keep any pain or illness under wraps, so by the time you notice something is off, it means your pet is pretty uncomfortable. Comprehensive exams by a veterinarian can help catch illness early. Other diagnostics such as blood work and radiographs, can also give us some insight into what is going on inside. Even if your pet is not ill, getting baseline blood work can let us know if a value is off in the future and warrants investigation.
7. Protect your pet.
We cannot stress enough how important it is to protect your pet with flea/tick preventive and heartworm prevention. We recommend flea/tick preventive all year round. The weather in Northern Virginia can be unpredictable, and it never gets quite cold enough for the appropriate length of time to completely kill off ticks and fleas. We have certainly picked our fair share of ticks off of dogs in the dead of winter.
Heartworm disease is serious and potentially fatal. Not only is it painful for pets, but treatment is non-existent for cats and very expensive for dogs and requires hospitalization. Prevention is about $80 a year, while treatment can average around $2,000.
Give yourself peace of mind, and protect your pet once a month, every month.
8. Be a good neighbor.
We’ve all been there. You are enjoying a walk with your pet, when BOOM. You’ve got poo on the shoe. You try scraping it off on the grass, but because shoe manufacturers care about traction, it is in every nook and cranny of our shoe tread. Besides this unfortunate mishap, not cleaning up after pets can lead to zoonotic diseases spreading all over your neighborhood. Zoonotic diseases are diseases that humans can contract from their pets. Some of these include roundworms, hookworms, and leptospirosis. Young children are especially at risk because they tend to play in areas that may have been contaminated, and often put their hands in their mouths.
9. Consider pet insurance.
Pet insurance options are becoming increasingly varied and are easier than ever to purchase. Why bother? Pet insurance can cover from just emergency situations to wellness visits and spay/neuter surgeries. Deductibles can also range to fit your budget. Pet insurance can be a (literal) lifesaver.
10. Play brain games.
Boredom can lead to behavior issues. Teach your pup a new trick. Play a game with your cat that encourages them to use their smarts. Keeping mind-enriching toys and games around can lead to a stronger bond between your family and your pet, as well as reduce the amount of mischief they may get into!