As 2022 comes to a close and you reflect on the year and set new goals for 2023, think about adding some pet-related New Year’s resolutions to your list.
USPETCARES reports that Common resolutions like eating healthy and losing weight can apply to our pets, too, especially those dogs and cats who are overweight for their breed and age. New Year’s resolutions for our pets can not only lead to a healthier and happier companion, but they can also make you a better owner and strengthen your bond with your furry friend.
Here are our picks for the best pet-related resolutions you can commit to in 2023.
- Focus on Preventative Care Macniak / Getty Images Going to the vet annually, sometimes more often for especially young or senior pets, is an important step to keeping your dog’s or cat’s health in excellent shape. “If your veterinary team can examine your pet regularly and see how things are going, it can help them to catch health issues before they become more serious,” veterinarian Heidi Cooley of Banfield Pet Hospital said in an email. Animals are typically good at hiding their pain until it gets serious. Veterinarians can screen for various health issues and identify disease or other problems before they become a major problem. Regular vet visits are also important for staying up-to-date on vaccinations.
- Commit to More Training Ziga Plahutar / Getty Images A well-trained dog can make your life a lot easier. Training is about more than correcting bad behavior—it can help improve communication between owner and dog. Even though it may seem like it, dogs don’t speak English and their brains work differently from human brains. Regular training sessions help your dog understand what you want from them, which can lead to a more fulfilling and less frustrating relationship.
- Prioritize Dental Care Oscar Wong / Getty Images Aside from the occasional dental chew, teeth cleaning is one of the things many pet owners admit neglecting. “Bad breath isn’t just an unpleasant smell you tolerate from your beloved pet—it can be a sign of dental disease, which can be associated with oral pain, excessive drooling, bleeding, and reluctance to eat or drink,” Cooley says. To avoid painful dental disease and expensive extractions, Cooley recommends taking a proactive approach to pet dental health with at-home care, such as tooth brushing or dental chews, combined with professional cleanings.
- Improve Your Pet’s Diet Thorsten Nilson / EyeEm / Getty Images A pet’s food is a key element of their health, and all pets should be fed a consistent, balanced, and veterinarian-approved diet. To improve your pet’s diet, you can commit to measuring portions and limiting treats to 10% or less of your pet’s daily caloric intake, according to Cooley. You can also avoid treating your pet to human food, which can cause more harm than good. If your pet has been eating the same food for years, you may want to check in with your vet to see if this food is still appropriate. Their diet may need to change over the course of their life because of lifestyle, life stage, and medical history. Continue to 5 of 8 below.
- Add Extra Enrichment Activities to Your Pet’s Day Lenti Hill / Getty Images Regular enrichment is essential for a happy, healthy pet and has been shown to reduce stress, prevent boredom, and reduce unwanted behaviors by providing physical and mental stimulation. Some enrichment activities to try in the new year may include puzzle feeders, training, interactive toys, and physical activities like fetch and agility courses.
- Help Your Pet Get More Exercise Lucky Business / Getty Images Many humans commit to exercise goals in the new year, so why not include your built-in workout buddy? Regular walks help our pets maintain healthy weights and provide enrichment by exposing them to new smells, sights, and sounds. “If your pet is overweight, the good news is small changes can have big long-term health benefits for your pet,” Cooley says. “Instead of resolving to run with your dog three miles a day, start out slow—perhaps walk a few extra blocks each day. This can also help reduce the risk of injury to your pet.”
- Learn a New Trick Cavan Images / Getty Images
Tricks are a fun form of enrichment and training that can impress your friends and family. If your dog has mastered sit, stay, and lay down, you can level up to kiss, speak, and spin.
- Stay on Top of Parasite Control Daria Kulkova / Getty Images Heartworm and flea and tick medication are important parasite control medications that your pet should take regularly. If you’re someone who forgets a dose every once and awhile, set calendar reminders so that your pet stays parasite-free in 2023. “There are multiple ways to prevent heartworm infection so it’s important to partner with your veterinarian to determine what’s right for your pet,” Cooley says. Options include monthly oral medications, monthly topical medications, and an injection given every six or 12 months by a veterinarian.
These resolutions are little things you can incorporate into your routine, and small steps can help lead to an overall healthier and happier pet. Help make 2023 your pet’s best year yet by committing to some of these health, fitness, and enrichment resolutions.