New Year’s resolutions for our best friends
January 9, 2009 Leave a comment
Our own New Year’s resolutions are a dime a dozen — exercise more, lose weight, stop smoking. While our animal friends can care less if it’s the old year or new, we can make a few resolutions for them that can go a long way toward insuring their health and safety and enhancing our relationship with them.
• Grooming your cat or dog for 15 minutes once or twice a week is an opportunity to evaluate her overall health. It also reduces your own stress level and helps in the bonding process.
• Make time for playtime. Playing keeps your pet intellectually stimulated, constructively redirects her energy and helps prevent obesity. A daily walk with your dog will do you a lot of good, too!
• Read the labels on the foods you buy and investigate the ingredients. Is this the best nutrition you can provide? If you’re ready for a quantum leap into nutrition, look into preparing your pet’s food.
• Buy one or two books on animal care and read them. You’ll be surprised what you can learn.
• If you have an outside cat, consider the hazards in letting her wander. If you have an inside cat, think of how you can improve her environment. In both cases, an outdoor enclosure and/or leash training may be part of the solution.
• As tempting as it may be for that before-bedtime tinkle, do not let your dog out unleashed or unsupervised. Coyotes are spotted all too frequently in every part of the country.
• It’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks — enroll your pup in an obedience class and/or look into clicker training. Karen Pryor is well-known for this gentle reward-based training. Even cats can be taught using that method.
• Learn to safely clip your cat’s claws instead of complaining about scratches and snags or resorting to declawing.
• Grow some catnip or cat grass in a pot on the window sill. Cats like to nibble on greenery, and it may save your houseplants.
• Contribute in some way to an animal welfare organization or your local shelter. Volunteer your time. Make a donation. Or better yet, adopt a kitten or puppy or older dog or cat that needs a loving home.
• If you haven’t yet spayed or neutered your dog or cat, do it — NOW.
• Finally, make an appointment with your veterinarian for your pet’s checkup. Be sure to write down any questions you may have. Protocols for vaccinations are changing, so discuss what is really necessary, keeping in mind your animal companion’s age and lifestyle. If your pet is approaching his senior years, consider having bloodwork done (and learn what the numbers mean) as a baseline for heading off any potential problems.
Our animal friends give us so much unconditional love. The least we can do for them is resolve to pay a little more attention to their welfare. Here’s hoping the New Year finds you snuggled up with your favorite feline or cherished canine!