New Year’s Res­o­lu­tions for Your Pet

Times of the Islands - - Departments - BY ANN MARIE O’PHEL AN Ann Marie O’Phe­lan is a Southwest Florida res­i­dent and reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor to TOTI Me­dia.

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 lee­ 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 lee­­i­malser­vices/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.

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