Our Pets Have New Year's Resolutions, Too!
As we kick off 2016 with our New Year’s Resolutions: vowing to lose a few pounds, eat healthier, get more exercise or go back to school, let’s not forget about our pets! Maybe Spot has gained a few pounds with age and needs to lose some weight. Maybe Rover needs to get more exercise to keep him younger, longer. Here are a few resolutions for us to consider for our pets!
Let's Lose Some Weight
Isn’t this everyone’s New Year’s Resolution? I know I gained a few pounds over the holidays and I’m working to correct that right now! For our pets, though, any chance of losing some weight rests on our human shoulders. Pets WILL NOT lose weight without our help.
First, we need to recognize that our dog or cat is overweight. If we are in denial about this, then we will have no incentive to help him change. Our pets should have a waistline!
Next we need to stop free-feeding. We don’t want our pet to have access to as much food as he wants all day long. Many dogs or cats will simply eat until the food is gone, not until they are full. Free feeding with multiple dogs in the house is an even bigger risk if we have one pet who is overweight, and another who is not. Our food-motivated pet will eat whatever food our other pet leaves.
Start feeding two meals a day. If we already do this, great! If our pet is still overweight, then we need to reduce the amount of food we are feeding at each meal. And cut out all the treats-they have lots of calories as well!
It is easy for us to make these decisions for our pets, so let’s do the right thing so that our dogs and cats can live longer, healthier lives. Read more at: How to Win the War Against Pet Obesity
Let's Get More Exercise
Getting regular exercise is also high on the list of resolutions people set for the new year. Let’s remember how good regular exercise is for ourselves and for our pets!
Your dog wants to get out of the house with you daily. Whether you take him for an easy walk, or for a more difficult run, or even if you go to an off-leash park where he wants to run and play while we stroll nearby. Any form of exercise is good exercise for our dogs.
Cats need exercise, too! It can be as simple as getting your cat interested in playing with a string, or you can look into some cat furniture on which he will enjoy climbing. Just find any way to get your cat moving some each day.
Getting exercise will not only help with our pet’s weight loss, but it will also help with older pets’ mobility and health. Just like getting regular exercise can help humans live a longer, healthier life, it can do the same for our pets.
Read more about why walking our dog is important here: Skipping Your Dog’s Daily Walk? Here Are 4 Reasons You Shouldn’t
Let's Stimulate Our Minds
There’s losing weight and getting more exercise for keeping our bodies healthy, but what resolution can we make to keep our pets mentally sharp as well? Humans can do crossword puzzles, play games, or do creative writing, but what do our pets have to keep them young mentally?
There are things like maze bowls and slow feeders that cause your dog or cat to work for his food, to even get a bite out of the bowl! My dogs and cats use these at every meal, and they’ve become very good at them. We can also stuff a Kong with treats or peanut butter and give them to our dogs so they can work on getting the food out as well as occupy their time.
Read more about interactive feeders here: Does Your Doggy Have the Winter Blues?
We should never stop teaching our dogs new commands and tricks, either! Learning something new is great mental stimulation for humans and for pets, and like I’ve said before: we can definitely teach an old dog new tricks.
Besides learning something new, we should do something new to keep our minds young. Our dogs will learn from simply going on new outings or trips, meeting new humans, and meeting new dogs. Learning how to navigate new social situations will help dogs, cats and humans stay younger, longer. And can help all of us become well socialized!
Read more about helping older dogs here: How Can I Help My Aging Pet?
So, when we get some exercise, let’s bring our dog along. When we want to get out of the house and do something, let’s take our dog to the park. When we decide to skip dessert, let’s skip our dog’s nightly treat as well. Let’s give the health and wellness of our dogs and cats as much attention as we should be giving our own health. When you think about it, the same principals really do apply to all of us. Let’s have a healthy and happy 2016!
- Jessie Isbell