New Year’s Checklist for A Healthy Pet in 2023
A new year provides new opportunities to improve your pet’s health and wellbeing.
Our furry family members can benefit from New Year’s resolutions that focus on preventive care. Read our Gentle Touch Animal Hospital team’s checklist of pet-friendly resolutions for a healthier 2023.
Brush up on your pet’s dental health
If you haven’t taken a peek at your pet’s teeth lately, you may want to lift their lip and get a good look. Like humans, pets require regular dental care, which is more than banishing bad breath. By the age of 3, most dogs and cats have some degree of dental disease—a progressive condition caused by oral bacteria, which damage your pet’s gums, teeth, and supportive tooth structures. Fortunately, you can help prevent your pet’s dental disease from becoming serious. Schedule your pet’s annual dental exam and cleaning, and to prevent tartar buildup, brush their teeth every day. When brushing your pet’s teeth, use a pet-safe toothpaste in an appealing favor, such as chicken, fish, or mint. If your pet won’t tolerate having their teeth brushed, ask your veterinarian about using a water additive or dental chews.
Help your pet maintain a healthy weight
A healthy weight is essential to your pet’s wellbeing. Before rationing your pet’s food, weigh them to determine whether their current weight falls within a healthy range. A pet is considered overweight if they weigh 10% to 20% heavier than their ideal body weight, and they are considered obese if they weigh more than 20% heavier than their ideal body weight. However, a number on the scale isn’t the only factor to consider. You can evaluate your pet’s weight at home by using a body condition scoring (BCS) system. Your pet’s BCS considers various factors, such as their muscle condition, waist size and shape, and the fat amount covering their ribs. Usually measured on a scale of 1 to 9, your pet’s BCS is similar to a person’s body mass index (BMI). If you are concerned about your pet’s weight, schedule an appointment with our Gentle Touch Animal Hospital team. Our veterinary professionals can help you better understand your pet’s weight, and help you set reasonable weight-loss goals if your pet’s body condition is less than ideal. Maintaining your pet’s healthy weight requires a combination of proper nutrition, activity, and preventive care.
▢ Stay active with your pet
Pets need daily exercise to maintain their mental and physical health, and inactivity can negatively affect their behavior, leading to serious medical issues such as obesity, arthritis, heart disease, and high blood pressure. If you and your pet have fallen into an exercise rut, spice things up this year by trying these fun activities:
- Take a daily walk — Walking your pet is a tried-and-true way to stay active. Get into a daily walking routine, and remain active for at least 15 to 30 minutes.
- Go for a hike — Hiking is another great physical activity, and a fun way to get out and enjoy nature with your pet. Before heading out on the trails, ensure your pet’s vaccinations are up-to-date to prevent your four-legged friend from contracting an infectious disease if they come in contact with an infected animal’s feces.
- Take a dip — Not all pets enjoy spending time in the water, but for those who do, swimming is a fun, low-impact activity that works well for senior pets and those with joint conditions.
Socialize your pet often
Socializing is essential for your pet’s wellbeing, and they learn how to interact with the world around them, including other animals and people. Socializing also helps build your pet’s confidence and improve their ability to adapt to new places and situations. Ensure your pet has regular opportunities to socialize by doing the following:
- Scheduling playdates
- Signing up for an obedience class
- Visiting pet-friendly establishments
- Walking in a new neighborhood
Update your pet’s identification
You may think your pet will never get lost, but accidents happen, and you must ensure you and your lost pet can be reunited if you become separated. Microchipping is the best way to ensure your pet’s safe return. If your pet is already microchipped, keep their chip registration up-to-date in the microchip registry. If your pet is not microchipped, schedule an appointment with our team to perform this quick, painless procedure. In addition to microchipping, always ensure your pet wears a well-fitting collar with current identification tags.
One of the best ways to keep your pet healthy in 2023 and beyond is to schedule their regular wellness exam. Start the year right by scheduling your pet’s appointment with our Gentle Touch Animal Hospital team.