learned how to walk and then jump through a hoop.
By Arden Moore
Each New Year’s Day, many of us vow that this is the year we will start each morning with yoga stretches, steer clear of the fast-food drive-thru and finally organize our clutter.
We are days into 2017. So how are you faring in your New Year’s resolutions?
Already slipping? Trust me, I can totally relate. That is why I never make annual resolutions for myself. I make them for my pets.
When you shift the focus of setting healthy goals on bettering your pets’ mental and physical well-being, you are more motivated to accomplish them.
As America’s Pet Health and Safety Coach, I’m all about bringing out the best in pets, so I happily unleash my 2017 Top 10 pet resolutions for your consideration:
1. Book an annual wellness examination for your pet. A lot of things can happen to your pet’s health in a year. These snout-to-tail checkups can help catch a condition early, when there is a better chance to treat it and at less expense. Be sure to bring your cat’s or dog’s favorite healthy treat for your veterinarian to dole out during the exam to make the clinic less frightening and more welcoming to your pet.
2. Schedule daily playtime with your tabby. Spending as little as five to 10 minutes a day in purposeful play with your indoor cat goes a long way toward curbing the destructive behavior often sparked by boredom in felines spending long days home alone. Casey, my orange tabby, delights in having me toss a paper wad down the hallway or wiggling a feather wand toy like an orchestra conductor for him to stalk, leap and pounce on. Playtime gets your cat mentally stimulated while slipping in some exercise to help keep him at a fit weight.
3. Take the ho-hum out of daily dog walks. Dogs may be creatures of routine, but they love to explore new sights and especially new smells. So mix up the routes, duration and pace on outdoor outings with your canine pal as I do with Kona, my young terrier mix. Ditch that same-route-at-the-same-time rut and treat your dog to new dog-safe places to explore. Work in some doggy obedience cues during your walks (don’t forget to bring a few treats) to encourage your dog to focus more on you and not that squirrel up the sidewalk.
4. Discuss vaccination options with your veterinarian. In order to avoid over-vaccinating your dog or cat, talk with your veterinarian about your pet’s lifestyle, risk and exposure to infectious diseases and together decide which vaccines are necessary for your pet’s protection. Ask about core (essential) and non-core (lifestyle-based) vaccines as well as the option of checking vaccine titers — an alternative to vaccine boosters that involves the veterinarian checking antibodies in your pet based on a blood draw.
5. Commit to performing dental care on your pet daily. This is the gold standard for prevention of gingivitis and tartar buildup. Keep in mind that by as young as age 3, 70 percent of dogs and cats develop some degree of dental problems. Consult your veterinarian about options that include pet finger brushes, dental treats, dental chews, dental rinses and pet-safe toothpaste.
6. Add some welcomed challenge at mealtimes. Once a week, go bowl free and put the measured portion of food in a pet food puzzle or treat ball for your dog or cat to paw and swat at to trigger the release of kibble. These items help slow the pace in dogs who gulp down their food as well as motivate the inner hunter in cats.
7. Boost your pet’s brain by teaching him a new trick. Dogs and cats of all ages benefit by being mentally challenged in a positive way. My cat, Casey, now comes, sits and lightly touches his paw to my hand on cue. We are now working on his figure-8 moves in and out of my legs. My dog, Kona, now spins cutely by reading my hand signal and is ready to learn how to roll over.
8. Cater to your senior pets. Treat your gray-muzzled pal to a sturdy ramp to allow him easy access to the sofa or your bed. Or provide him with a quality orthopedic pet bed that will cushion his arthritic joints and allow him to nap or sleep easily.
9. Engage in cat chat and dog dialogue. Take time each day to talk, laugh and even read out loud to your pet. These small gestures boost your bond with your pet on an emotional level. Be sure to say his name in an upbeat way and even create mini-jingles you can sing to him to elevate the mood in both of you.
10. Enroll in a pet first-aid/CPR class. Be your pet’s best health ally by taking a pet first- aid class and learn what to do — and what not to do — in a pet emergency when minutes count. Look for veterinarian-approved courses that will teach you the right way to perform cat/dog CPR and rescue breathing, as well as deal with bleeding, poisoning, choking and other first-aid issues. I am blessed because Kona and Casey team up with me when I teach my Pet First Aid 4U classes all over the country to give students more hands-on experience in finding pulses, bandaging legs and more.
Got a favorite pet-related New Year’s resolution? Please share it for other pet lovers by emailing me directly at email@example.com or posting online at the end of this column at www.thecoastalstar.com. And may you and your pets enjoy a grrr-eat 2017 from Casey, Kona and me!
Arden Moore, founder of www.FourLeggedLife.com, is an animal behavior consultant, editor, author, professional speaker and master certified pet first-aid instructor. Each week, she hosts the popular Oh Behave! show on www.PetLifeRadio.com. Learn more by visiting www.fourleggedlife.com.