New Year’s Resolutions for Pets

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By Joe Musielak, DVM, Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital, Small-Animal Emergency

New Year’s resolutions aren’t just for people: Consider including your pets in your goal-setting as well! The important thing about resolutions is to choose ones that are achievable; here are some suggestions to get you started.
 

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Exercise.

I read somewhere that if your dog is overweight, then you aren’t getting enough exercise. I know this is the case with my oldest dog, Ouija. At 14, she luckily isn’t overweight, but our jogs have become a bit shorter. She isn’t any less excited when the “jogging” leash comes out, but by the end of the jog, I’m ahead of her ... rather than trying to slow her down like I did for the first 13 years of her life. My resolution is to take our shorter jogs for as long as she is able, because it brings her such joy, and keeps us both moving. Regular exercise helps your pet (and you) stay physically and mentally healthy.

Microchip.

Consider microchipping your pets. If you are going to spend more time playing with your dog outdoors, a microchip can help her get back to you if she takes off chasing a ball and decides to keep going. Microchips are also important for cats – outdoor kitties for obvious reasons, and even indoor cats benefit. Should your pet shoot out the door one night, a microchip can help him get home sooner. Almost every veterinary hospital and animal shelter routinely scans strays for microchips when they are brought in.

Spay and neuter.

One of the top reasons for spaying and neutering is to avoid adding to the problem of pet overpopulation. Spaying and neutering also can reduce the likelihood of an animal developing life-threatening and expensive-to-treat health problems, such as an infected uterus in females, prostate disease in males, and certain cancers including uterine, breast and testicular.

Spaying female pets prevents them from going into heat. Female cats in heat may vocalize more, and female dogs may leave bloodstains on your clothes, carpets and furniture. A female pet in heat may attract unwanted male pets to your home. When female cats go into heat, males will detect the scent and mark their territory by spraying urine. It also can lead to fighting with other male cats, which could result in injuries and transmission of diseases such as feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus. Unneutered dogs can smell a female dog in heat from miles away. When they sneak out to go looking for Ms. Right Now, they have an increased chance of being injured by fighting with other male dogs searching for the same female, and of getting hit by a car.

Visit the vet.

Regular checkups are recommended for all dogs and cats. Your veterinarian can answer any health or behavioral questions you have about your pet, examine your pet from nose to tail (including teeth), ensure vaccines are updated, discuss parasite prevention, and offer diet/exercise recommendations. These regular visits give your veterinarian the opportunity to catch any developing illness and address issues as soon as possible. 

PVH offers comprehensive care and 24/7 emergency services for dogs and cats: 360.568.3113. Located at 11308 92nd Street SE, Snohomish. 

Source for New Year's images: http://www.buzzfeed.com/laurena6/13-cutest-pets-party-at-new-years-3ph5

Article added December 28, 2013.