New Year’s Resolutions for Your Pet
We often set goals in the New Year—we try to lose weight, live healthier, get more exercise. Well, goals such as these can also be applied to your pet! Consider the fact that the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention reports that pet obesity increased in 2017, and now 60 percent of cats and 56 percent of dogs are obese. A pet’s excessive weight can lead to a variety of health problems, including kidney disease, type 2 diabetes, thyroid disease, high blood pressure, arthritis and certain cancers.
Obesity is also directly aligned with a reduced quality of life and a shorter life span for pets. However, just because a pet is obese, that doesn’t mean it can’t lose weight and enjoy greater health.
Take, for instance, Brandi, a cocker spaniel owned by Kayla Britton, a customer service supervisor at Lee County Domestic Animal Services. Brandi was a little overweight, so Britton placed her on a diet and exercise regimen. She subsequently lost 10 pounds and can now get up and down much more comfortably. Her weight loss is a welcome relief to her joints.
“Brandi has begun to act more like a puppy again instead of a senior dog. She has definitely gotten some of her old spark back,” says Britton.
Having a dog that is at a healthy weight will also save money. Less food is ingested and, in addition, health problems brought on by overweight pets are costly. “Health issues can burden the pet’s owner financially,” explains Karen Fordiani, public information specialist at Lee County Domestic Animal Services.
Veterinarian bills for treatments and surgeries can cost well into the hundreds and thousands of dollars. Thus, it’s best to keep the animal in good health before problems set in. Exercise, along with a proper diet that excludes food scraps, too many treats and overfeeding, can work wonders on bringing a pet’s weight under control—whether it’s a cat or a dog.
Dogs, especially, need regular exercise. “Daily walks are good for both you and your dog, as they add to better health and help keep the weight down,” adds Fordiani.
The website petMD recommends exercising your dog at least 30 minutes per day. And when walking your dog, you’re honoring your New Year’s resolutions by also reaping the benefits of exercise. It can help the metabolic system to function better, tone muscles, assist with mental stimulation and even increase socialization.
Walking around the block works well, but you can also take your pooch to a dog park or an area that allows dogs. Lee County Parks & Recreation offers a list of dog parks—on-leash and off-leash—at leegov.com/parks/dog-parks. Examples include the Dog Beach on Fort Myers Beach and the fenced-in Wagging Tails Dog Park at Rotary Park Environmental Center in Cape Coral. (Pets must be up to date on shots and be registered at Wagging Tails Dog Park.)
Along with ongoing physical health, owners need to schedule yearly shots and check-ups for their pets. In additional to veterinary clinics, there are various shot clinics in the area. These include ShotVet and Pet Shot Express, as well as at pet and food stores such as Pet Supermarket.
Keep in mind that rabies shots for cats, dogs and ferrets are required by Lee County (one- and three-year vaccines are available). Also required is Lee County licensing. Find out more at leegov.com/animalservices/licensing.
“We also recommend a yearly check-up at your veterinarian,” says Fordiani. During a pet’s annual exam, the
And when walking your dog, you’re honoring your New Year’s resolutions by also reaping the benefits of exercise.
vet can check your pet’s teeth for early signs of a problem. The vet will offer recommendations about how to keep your pet’s mouth healthy. Poor dental hygiene can lead to broken teeth and roots, periodontal disease and even abscesses or infected teeth.
Most American households have pets. In fact, according to the American Pet Products Association’s 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey, “68 percent of U.S. households own a pet, which equates to 84.6 million homes.”
New Year’s resolutions are a time to make a personal goal or commitment to a positive change. Remember that the changes you make for your pet’s better health will also be positive ones in your life as well.