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Top Ten Resolutions for Your Pet

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New Year, New Start

Get organized. Check. Get a better job. Check. Lose weight. Check that one twice. This New Year isn’t unlike any other -- you'll probably make resolutions that you'll struggle to keep after the first week — again. But that doesn't mean resolutions are hopeless. Make a real difference in 2013 and forge a pact for healthy change with your pet. These resolutions will help keep your pet happy, healthy, and safe throughout the year. And well, what's more important than that?

#10 Pet-proof Your Home

As you may already know, pets get into anything and everything! Keep poisons and other dangerous items in secure places, preferably in a locked cabinet or in a room that is out of the animal's reach.

#9 Get Your Pet ID'd

Whether it is a tag or a microchip, identifying your pet and your contact information will help your chances of having your pet returned should it become lost -- especially in the case of lost dogs and cats. Just remember to keep the contact information current!

#8 Socialize Your Pet

Don't worry; you don't have to create a Facebook profile for them. But like children, your pet can become destructive and unmanageable when she is not given enough attention or is not allowed to socialize with other animals of her kind. Obedience/training courses are just what your pet needs to learn some manners. And remember, it's never too late to train an animal.

#7 Groom Your Pet

There is nothing worse than a stinky pet. Stay on top of her grooming routine -- bathe her, brush her coat, and clip her nails. All these things will make her the envy of your block. And if you haven't noticed yet, your pet is usually happier when she is clean and pretty.

#6 Have Your Pet Spayed or Neutered

Of course we all know spaying (and neutering) helps decrease the population of strays, but did you know many veterinarians believe it can benefit the animal's health too? Among the health benefits: a decrease in testicular cancer, prostate problems, urine marking and inter-dog (or inter-cat) aggression for males, and a decrease in mammary cancer, uterine cancer, and ovarian cancer for females.

#5 Use Preventives

Why worry about heartworms, fleas and other pesky parasites? Preventives are your pet's best line of defense against parasites and the deadly diseases they cause. Also, consult your veterinarian. Year-round use may be needed in warmer regions.

#4 Create a Maintenance Checklist

Maintenance is perhaps the most dreaded of all pet resolutions. Perhaps it's the awful smells or all the cleaning involved. Whatever the reason, developing proper maintenance habits (e.g., emptying the litter box, cleaning the cage, changing the newspaper clippings) will create a clean and pleasant environment for your pet. Also, poor sanitation can lead to behavior and health issues.

#3 Customize Your Pet's Diet

Diets should be suited to the animal's age and size. When kept at her ideal body weight, your pet can live a longer, healthier life. She is also at a lower risk of heart disease, joint problems, and various other conditions associated with poor health.

#2 Exercise With Your Pet More

Need an exercise partner? Look no further. Some dogs are satisfied with a walk around the neighborhood once a day, while others require additional exercise time. Take her to a park, to the beach or to your backyard, just make sure you have fun, too! Oh, and don't forget about your other pet(s). Just because she isn't a dog, doesn't mean she doesn't need exercise. (We're looking at you, Kitty!)

#1 Don't Postpone the Annual Checkup

Not only will waiting until your pet is ill lead to unnecessary suffering, complications may arise and this will make the animal's course of treatment more expensive. Keep your vet bills in check and visit the white-coated professional as regularly as possible.

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