Do not forget to include your furry pal as you compose your New Year’s resolutions and goals for 2021. Recent research proves that people who share their home with a pet live longer and can enjoy a greater overall quality of life. We share a special bond with our pets, and we naturally want them with us for as long as possible. Our Animal Emergency Center team wants to ensure you and your pet start 2021 out on the right paw with these five ways to keep your pet healthy for years to come. 

#1: Move more with your pet

Pet obesity has become an epidemic with more than 50% of dogs and cats considered overweight or obese. Owners frequently are unaware that their furry pals are actually overweight even though pets may look perfect to an adoring pet parent. Extra-fluffy felines and pudgy pooches are at a higher risk of developing various health issues including high blood pressure, lung and heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, arthritis, and some cancers. Conversely, animals who maintain a healthy weight can live up to two years longer than their overweight or obese furry pals. Staying active with your pet—short, frequent walks can make a difference—will ensure they move more, and is a great way to spend time together and strengthen your bond. Schedule a veterinary exam to ensure your pet does not have any problems, such as joint pain, that could make some exercises challenging before starting any type of exercise program with your pet. Try sneaking some exercises into their routine if your pet prefers couch cuddles to outdoor adventures. This includes: 

  • Hiding treats, or portions of their breakfast or dinner around the house to encourage your pet to move to look for their food 
  • Putting food or treats in a puzzle toy or ball, so your pet burns calories while they work to retrieve their treats
  • Encouraging your cat’s stalking behavior with a feather toy they cannot resist chasing 
  • Designating a special soft toy for playing indoor fetch—your pet will be less likely to grow bored with a toy they have only for play sessions 

#2: Commit to regular preventive veterinary care

Annual or more frequent veterinary checkups are the best insurance that your pet is healthy and disease-free. Regular preventive care visits allow your veterinarian to perform a thorough nose-to-tail exam on your pet and to discuss your pet’s lifestyle and home habits in addition to vaccinations and parasite control. Subtle changes you see at home could indicate an infection or raise a red flag to your veterinarian of a looming health issue. Early diagnosis and treatment of most pet problems will help ensure a more successful outcome. 

#3: Play brain games with your pet

Walks with your pooch and regular play sessions will help ensure your pet is physically fit, but mental health is equally important for their overall wellbeing. Bored pets are more likely to be mischievous or behave poorly. Additionally, pets approaching their grey muzzle years have an increased chance of mental decline. Ensure your pet’s mind stays active with varying routines, including:

  • Playing hide-and-seek with their favorite treats or toys
  • Varying the number and types of your pet’s toys to prevent familiarity and boredom
  • Naming each of your pet’s toys and teaching your pet to retrieve them by name
  • Teaching your pet a new trick or skill such as agility training
  • Enrolling your pet in a behavior training class 

#4: Make dental care part of your pet’s daily routine

Dog kisses and cat cuddles may be unpleasant if you suddenly notice a bad odor in your pet’s mouth. Dental disease is very common in pets by the age of 3 years. More than 70% of cats and dogs will have some form of periodontal disease which can affect your pet’s overall health and cause problems with their kidneys, liver, and heart. Daily toothbrushing with a pet-safe toothpaste can improve your pet’s overall health and decrease the need for professional teeth cleanings. Other methods including dental treats, wipes, or oral rinses can help keep their teeth sparkling clean if your pet will not accept daily brushing. 

#5: Plan ahead for pet emergencies

You cannot predict when a pet emergency may arise, and unplanned veterinary visits can be costly. Fortunately, good pet health insurance plans, such as those from Trupanion, are available to help lessen the financial burden associated with emergency pet care. Pet insurance plans vary although most cover treatment for accidents or illnesses. In addition to pet health insurance, several other options can help with emergency veterinary costs. Some options commonly used are:

  • Pet health savings accounts
  • Care Credit
  • Scratch Pay
  • Short-term loans

Our Animal Emergency Center team wishes you and your pets a safe and healthy New Year, but give our office a call should your pet get into after-hours trouble. Also, contact us if you have questions about how pet insurance can alleviate your concerns about costly treatments for your beloved companion. #AECprevents