At the start of the New Year, many people make resolutions to improve themselves. Pets can't make resolutions for themselves, but there are some key areas that vets would like to see improved in the lives of our patients.
With this in mind, here are some New Year Resolutions that people could usefully make that could improve the quality of life of their pets and we can tell our clients about them!
I promise to exercise my pet more often
Healthy adult dogs should be taken for a walk for around half an hour, twice daily. This applies even if they are allowed to roam around the garden all day by themselves. Dogs need extra encouragement from human contact to prevent boredom and to burn up calories, and they need to leave their immediate environment to enjoy the sights, smells and sounds of a new, interesting area. Even elderly pets that may not be able to run around should be taken out: that seemingly crazy idea of taking a dog out in a pet stroller does make sense. Even if dogs can’t take physical exercise, they enjoy the mental diversion of seeing, smelling and hearing the world around them.
Cats don't need exercise in the same way as dogs, but ideally, their owners should focus on them for around 20 minutes a day. If your cat enjoys playing, you may be surprised at how much you enjoy the experience yourself. It can be useful wind-down and bonding time for both cats and owners. Some cats (and some owners) do not enjoy such 'play', but human contact should still be encouraged. Put the cat on your lap and stroke it - you will both find this relaxing - a purring cat is one of the most effective blood pressure relievers.
I promise to pay more attention to my pet's diet
Most pets have adequate diets, but up to two-thirds of pet dogs are overweight in the UK. There are modern low-calorie dog diets specially designed to make losing weight easier. Underfeeding of pets is less of a problem, but have you considered what quality of food you are using? "Pets are what they eat", and many people find that if they change their pet's diet to a modern, so-called 'premium' diet, made from carefully selected top quality ingredients, their pets develop a new shine in the coat, sparkle in the eye and spring in the step.
I promise to groom my pet more often
Some short-haired dogs and cats are good at grooming their own coats, and an occasional quick brush of the coat with a soft bristled brush is all that is needed. However, long-haired animals need regular frequent grooming at home to prevent the build-up of matted hair and dirt. A full professional groom, perhaps twice a year, may also be needed. Don’t skimp on this area: if you want your pet to have a great quality life, you need to look after their grooming needs.
I promise to keep my pet adequately vaccinated
Most people know that puppies and kittens need a course of vaccinations before they are safe to mix with other animals, but there has been some debate in recent years about annual booster vaccinations. While the latest vaccines have new data sheets that allow them to be given at extended intervals for some diseases (e.g. 3 – 4 years) it is important that their immunity to the most serious viral diseases is not allowed to decline. If this happens, they will again become vulnerable to many life-threatening diseases. If you are not sure about your pet's vaccination status, ask your vet to check your pet's medical records, and make sure that you are not unwittingly putting your pet's life at risk. If you wish to utilise vaccine titre blood tests rather than routine vaccinations, do talk to your vet. In recent years, technology in this area has improved significantly.
I promise to keep my pet regularly treated for parasites
It is important to regularly does not only puppies and kittens but also adult dogs and cats. You need to work with your vet to set up a top quality anti-parasite regime, to cover lungworm, roundworm and tapeworm. This is important not only for the health of the animal but also to prevent the infection of humans with dog or cat worms. You should also talk to your vet about controlling external parasites, including fleas and ticks. There is no “one size fits all” approach to parasite control in pets, but it’s a topic which cannot be ignored if you want your pet to enjoy optimal health.
If pet owners followed these resolutions, their pets would be happier and healthier. Do you have any other suggestions that might help to achieve this objective?