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The Daily Vet by petMD

The Daily Vet is a blog featuring veterinarians from all walks of life. Every week they will tackle entertaining, interesting, and sometimes difficult topics in the world of animal medicine – all in the hopes that their unique insights and personal experiences will help you to understand your pets.

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It is estimated that roughly 45 percent of Americans make New Year resolutions. Of course, far fewer actually follow through on those resolutions. Here are a few pet-related New Year resolutions that I hope you are successful in keeping.

  • Pay more attention to your pets. Which one of us wouldn’t enjoy spending more time with our four-legged friends? And most of our pets would enjoy the extra attention, too. This should be an easy resolution to keep.
  • Make sure your pets get the veterinary attention they need. Yes, dogs and cats alike need regular veterinary attention. I know this might be a harder resolution to keep for a variety of reasons. Finances, time, and the hassle of the trip itself can all be roadblocks. Still, if you do commit to this resolution, it’s likely your pet will be rewarded with a longer, happier, healthier life. Who doesn’t want that for their furry companion?
  • Statistics tell us that 38 percent of the New Year resolutions made relate to weight issues. The same should extend to our pets. Too many of our pets are overweight or even obese. In fact, this is the number one nutritional problem veterinarians see — and we see it on a daily basis. Roughly half of the animals I see have weight issues and these weight issues affect their lives. Commit to keeping your pet at his ideal body condition or helping him get there if he’s already overweight. Your veterinarian can help you determine if your pet is overweight and, if necessary, can help you establish a weight control program for your pet. Don’t start a diet for your pet without consulting your veterinarian first though. It’s important that dieting pets receive balanced nutrition. Crash diets and fad diets are as bad for your pet as they are for you.
  • Dental disease is another problem veterinarians see regularly and it is often overlooked by both veterinarians and pet owners. Did you know that your pet can start having dental issues even at a young age? Or that bad breath may be much more than just “doggy breath”? Bad breath may, in fact, be a sign of dental disease. Commit to taking better care of your pet’s mouth. Your veterinarian can show you how to brush your pet’s teeth. If brushing is not practical, there are other alternatives in the form of special foods and dentrifices that can help keep your pet’s mouth healthy. The next time you see your veterinarian, ask about the health of your pet’s mouth and what can or should be done to make your pet’s mouth healthier.
  • Do you have a senior pet? Are you doing all you can to make that pet’s life as comfortable as possible? Often, our seniors are prone to painful diseases like arthritis. Something as simple as a soft padded bed to rest on can make a big difference for a pet with sore joints or muscles. Ramps can make getting into and out of the car easier for large dogs that cannot be easily lifted and placed inside. They can also make difficult to reach areas of the home easier for pets to access. Stairs or ramps can also make furniture, beds, and perches (for cats) more easily accessible. Your veterinarian can offer other suggestions for pain relief. Therapies for pets, like massage, hydrotherapy, laser therapy, acupuncture and more are becoming more widely available and more frequently used.

What resolutions are you considering for the upcoming New Year in relation to your pet? Do you think you will be successful in keeping them?

Dr. Lorie Huston

Image: gimme hugs! by vincent maitray / via Flickr

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