Happy New Year! It’s me—your favorite pet! I hear that now is the time when people make resolutions for the year ahead, and I thought I’d come up with mine. While we both know that I am already perfect in every way, I’ll dig deep to find some areas in which I can become even more so. My friends at LaGrange Veterinary Hospital have given me permission to use this latest blog post to share my 2023 resolutions, and maybe these ideas will inspire other pets and people to do the same.
Pets just want to have fun—resolve to have more enjoyment
I know I already make your life so much fun, but we can always make room for more enjoyment, right? So this year, I want to spend more time every day having fun together. We can do so many enjoyable activities together, including:
- Playing a game of fetch outdoors
- Walking on a new route
- Playing hide and seek with my favorite toy or treats
- Making—and eating—healthy homemade pet treats
- Enjoying a pet spa day
- Trying a new activity such as agility
- People watching at a pet-friendly business
Pudgy pets are at risk—help your pet get lean
I certainly carry the weight well, with the extra rolls adding to my cuteness. However, I have to admit that I could lose a few pounds this year to improve my health and increase my longevity. I have learned that an overweight or obese pet often has a decreased lifespan and is at a much higher risk for numerous serious health issues, including osteoarthritis, chronic skin infections, diabetes, hypothyroidism, heart disease, breathing problems, and some cancers. I want to start the new year right by making healthy changes, and of course, I’m going to need your help. I depend on you for my meals, exercise, and health, so this weight-loss journey needs to be a team effort. The knowledgeable LaGrange Veterinary Hospital team can guide us, and before you know it, I will be back in tip-top shape. You can help me shed the extra pounds by doing the following:
- Assess my body condition — While a scale shows you my weight, that number is not as useful as knowing my body condition score (BCS). A BCS is a personalized pet weight and body condition assessment that can help you determine whether I am overweight or too thin.
- Determine my caloric needs — Rather than feeding me based on a food label’s suggested amount, use a calorie calculator to determine my daily caloric needs.
- Measure my portions — Once you determine my correct food portion, use a measuring cup to ensure you feed me the precise amount of food I need, rather than simply guessing.
- Be smart about treats — This one is hard for me, because we know how much I love delicious treats. However, you can help me lose weight by keeping my treats to a minimum—treats should make up no more than 10% of my total diet—and you should include them in my daily caloric intake.
- Exercise daily — In addition to a healthy diet, I need daily exercise to shed pounds and maintain a healthy weight. So let’s make a commitment to exercising together every day—ideally 10 to 15 minutes of physical exercise twice per day.
Brain games keep your pet sharp—provide mental enrichment
Mental stimulation is as important as physical exercise to maintain my health and wellbeing. Enrichment activities can effectively channel my mental energy and improve my brain health. Keep my brain sharp this year by providing me with opportunities to practice instinctive behaviors and solve problems by using my senses and intelligence, such as:
- Puzzle toys —Puzzle toys use food treats to stimulate my innate problem-solving skills and can help make mealtimes more interesting.
- Playdates — Pets are social animals, and playdates with other pets or people fulfill my social needs.
- Scavenger hunts — To stimulate my instinctual tracking and hunting behaviors, hide treats or meals around the house, so I can practice using my senses to find them.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure—schedule pet wellness exams
Preventive care is the easiest way to extend my life and ensure my good health. Annual wellness exams are essential to preventive care. During a wellness visit, my veterinarian will perform a nose-to-tail physical examination, talk with you about any of my potential health problems, and recommend ways to improve and maintain my wellbeing.
Let’s jump-start our New Year’s resolutions and make this the best year yet. Contact my friends at LaGrange Veterinary Hospital to schedule my wellness exam, or to discuss any concerns you have about my health.