January 23, 2024 | General
Five surefire recommendations for making your four-legged companion’s life a bit happier and healthier in the new year.
By Dr. Karen Shaw Becker – https://www.barkandwhiskers.com/2024-01-01-new-years-resolutions-for-pet-lovers/
One of the problems with keeping New Year’s resolutions is that often, we simply set our expectations too high. That’s why I encourage pet parents to think small when it comes to planning positive changes for furry family members in the new year. When a goal is doable, it’s more likely to actually get done, so here are five suggestions for making incremental positive improvements in your pet’s life in 2024.
Often pets aren’t seen by a veterinarian until an illness is in an advanced stage. This usually means the animal has been suffering for some time, and sadly, it often means there’s no way to stop or reverse the progress of the disease. Not every condition can be detected by a physical exam, of course, but you’d be surprised how many potential health crises are averted by an alert pet owner who detects a problem and makes an appointment with their veterinarian.
I also encourage you to have a holistic or integrative practitioner on your pet’s health care team. There is a lot that can be done to improve the health and quality of life of your animal companion beyond what traditional Western medicine is able to offer.
Find out where your pet’s current diet ranks on my list of 13 pet foods, and if you learn that it’s on the lower end of the ranking, set a goal for 2024 to start working your way up the list.
To be optimally healthy, dogs and cats need quality protein, fats, and a small number of vegetables and fruits that provide antioxidants and fiber to animals who no longer hunt whole prey.
Your pet needs unadulterated, fresh, whole foods that are moisture dense. They don’t need grains, fillers, artificial preservatives, colors, additives, chemicals, byproducts, or processed or genetically modified (GM) foods. Although animals can eat some processed foods, they aren’t designed to consume a lifetime of dry or canned diets.
One extra hour a week is 60 minutes over seven days, or less than 10 extra minutes a day. If you and your pet take weekends off, you need to add just 12 extra minutes of exercise to your regular routine Monday through Friday.
Another option is to take your dog for an extra half-hour walk on Saturdays and Sundays. If your pet is a cat, you could add 15 extra minutes of active play four times a week.
Spending an extra few minutes each day with your cat is also enriching for her, especially if you use the time to increase her fitness through interactive play.
Environmental enrichment means enhancing your pet’s surroundings and lifestyle so that he is presented with novelty in his environment, opportunities to learn, and encouragement to engage in instinctive, species-specific behaviors. Ways to enrich your dog’s environment can include:
Enriching a kitty’s environment involves creating minimally stressful living quarters and reducing or eliminating events that cause anxiety. Any change to your cat’s daily routine is experienced (by her) as a stress-inducing event. The goal is to minimize change and maximize the amount of control kitty feels over her situation.
Enrichment may also mean adding or changing things in your pet’s environment that encourage her to perform or mimic natural feline activities like climbing to a high spot or hunting “prey” (cat toys).
If there’s room for improvement in your pet’s lifestyle, today is a really good day to think about what you can do differently to help your four-legged family member enjoy better health and a longer life.
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