With a bright, shiny new year laid out in front of us, it’s a good time to consider big (and little) resolutions—and how to involve your pets in the 2016 goal-setting. In today’s blog, some ideas where a little change in your life and could result in a big improvement in your furry friend’s life.

Daily exercise. Get out and about with your dog, every day. If you’re trying to shape up or train for a competition, your dog could be a willing fitness partner. WestVet New Year's resolutions for pets - Keep everyone healthy and Happy in 201630 minutes of walking, running, hiking, or cross-country skiing a few times a week will benefit both of you.

For feline friends, playtime is a must. The time that your cat spends chasing and batting a toy benefits his/her waistline and temperament. Veterinarians maintain that a pet’s healthy weight is critical for long-term health and mobility. Bonus: pets think of the work out as play time, they’ll not only be tired, but more content!

No people food – and a measured meal.  Using a specific scoop when dishing up your pet’s food dish can save some extra calories. Your family veterinarian will have important input on both the type and amount of food your pet needs for his age/breed/size. Table scraps are always a “NO.” Human food contains too much sugar, salt, fat, etc., for four-legged friends. Don’t forget to track the treats dispensing. If you, your partner, the dog walker, and the kids all dole out a treat or two, it will be too much. Consider counting out a daily portion; when the treats are gone—they’re done for the day.

Schedule the day. Pets thrive on routine. You may find that as meals, walks, and play time happen at the same time, your pet is one step ahead of you. Disruption in the routine is particularly stressful for cats. Ordinary life changes like a new baby, houseguests, remodeling, moving and/or the addition of a new pet can result in an unhappy and misbehaving feline. Your veterinarian will have some ideas on ways to help alleviate distress and help ease your cat into the new family dynamic. In addition, WestVet’s Dr. Hazel Carney provides behavior consultations if your kitty is suddenly stressed, aggressive or anxious, and/or not using the litter box.

Book the annual veterinary visit. The yearly physical exam performed by your family veterinarian is critical to your pet’s good health. Veterinary records track a pet’s weight, vaccines and preventative care medications, and any other significant changes. Call and schedule your pet’s 2016 appointment today!

Seek specialty care when needed. A veterinary specialist could save your pet’s life; they partner with your family veterinarian to provide the highest level of care available. Pets often benefit from seeing a specialist if they are not responding to treatment or have an aggressive or advanced illness.

Take a training class (or two). If your pooch could benefit from some better manners, 2016 could be the year to enroll in a training course. Many of the best dog trainers often say that training for your dog is actually training for YOU on how to be consistent, firm, and clear in commands and expectation. Bonus: the time spent together will strengthen the relationship and bond with your pet.

Update collar and contact information. Ensure that your pet has a well-fitting collar with current ID tags. If you and your pet become separated, these ID tags and a current city pet license are the quickest means to a happy reunion. Many pet microchip companies enable pet families to update contact info online in a matter of minutes. 

As you embrace the New Year and its promise of change and personal improvement, include your pets and make it a great year for all of you. Happy 2016!

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