As 2018 comes to an end, we are all likely setting some lofty goals for ourselves for 2019. Resolutions can be anything from making more money, shedding a few unwanted pounds, or perhaps traveling more. New Years resolutions are not just for us, our pet's need them too. Here are a few tips to make sure that 2019 is the best year yet for your pet.
Pet Weight Loss
As few as five pounds above the ideal body weight can put your dog at risk for developing some serious medical conditions. Unfortunately, when a dog is overweight or obese it no longer is a question of "if" your dog will develop a condition secondary to the excess weight but "when". Some of the common disorders associated with excess weight include:
Type 2 diabetes
Increased frequency of joint injuries
High blood pressure
Some forms of cancer - especially intra-abdominal cancers
As we all know, weight is much easier to put on than it is to take off. Getting our pets to lose weight can be very difficult but here are a few tips to help.
Measure meals- Too often I hear pet owners say "I only feed 2 cups per day". What does that cup actually look like though? Is it a Tumblr glass or an actual measuring cup? Free feeding or just simply filling the bowl once it is empty is a surefire way leading to weight gain. Consult with your pet's Veterinarian to ensure you are feeding the appropriate amount.
Control the treats- Though the treats may be small, they are mighty. I am not anti-treat but I am anti-junk. Most treats are high in calories and sugar and over time will definitely add inches to your pet's waistline. If you are going to be feeding treats, this needs to be accounted for in the daily feeding amount and cannot be "extra". Be careful of "guilt treating". This is when you give your dog a treat for something you feel guilty for (leaving the home alone, etc).
Get moving- For dogs, as little as 20-30 minutes per day of a brisk walk can boost immune function, improve heart health, and even help improve some unwanted behaviors. A tired dog is a happy dog! Not only is this exercise beneficial to your dog but also to you as well. You have your very own work out buddy.
Visit The Vet
I know we all live crazy busy lives but our pet's depend on us to keep them healthy. It is important not to skip your pet's annual or bi-annual vet visit. Having your vet give your pet a good once over from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail should be done routinely. Vets are trained to detect problems that can often times be overlooked by the pet owner. Routine lab work is also recommended on a yearly basis for younger pets and twice a year for older pets. All of these things can help detect potential diseases before they become a serious problem.
Evaluate Your Budget
We never like to think about bad things happening to our loved ones, but the reality is that most pet owners seek emergency care at least once with their animals due to trauma, illness, or sudden injury. The costs for after-hours care can quickly add up. Since most people don’t have pet health insurance, it behooves owners to set aside some funds for those just-in-case times. It helps prevent making important medical decisions based solely on costs; sadly I find this is often the case. Here are a few things to help ease the burden of paying for vet care.
Pet insurance- There are numerous options for pet insurance, all having advantages and disadvantages. It is free to call and get a quote. When picking a plan for your pet, consider you and your pet's lifestyle. You may not need the most expensive plan. Surprisingly, more things will be covered by the plan than you think. I highly recommend pet insurance to all of my clients.
Care Credit- This can be great for those unexpected emergencies. Care credit is essentially a medical credit card that you can use for yourself and your pet. Most Veterinary Hospitals accept it as a form of payment. It is easy to apply over the phone or online. In most cases, you have determined amount of time to repay the amount you use interest free. I personally have this and reserve it for emergencies for my pets but it can also be used for any routine visits to the vet as well.
Breed specific assistance programs- You may be able to located breed specific groups in your area that would be willing to help with veterinary expenses. This will likely depend on the situation.
Good preventative care- As mentioned in the previous section, preventative care is paramount to your pet's healthy. Detecting a problem before it becomes serious can keep money in your pocket book! Keeping up with the little things can prevent the big things from happening.
Those Pearly Whites
Daily toothbrushing is the best way to keep tartar and plaque at bay — just be sure to use a toothpaste meant for dogs and cats. Water additives, dental diets, and treats designed to reduce tartar can also be a helpful tool in keeping teeth clean. And even with all of these tricks, regular cleanings by a licensed veterinarian are the best way to keep those pearly whites in tip top shape long into your pet’s senior years. For more information about proper dental care, click HERE.
From all of us at Spetcial, we want to wish you, your family, and your pets and safe and Happy New Year!