2021 is around the corner, which means it is time for the annual ritual of making New Year’s resolutions. This year, consider including your pet in your plans. Here are five suggestions for 2021 resolutions that will keep you and your four-legged companion happy and healthy.

Pet resolution #1: Have more fun

Whatever is fun for your pet can be fun for you, too. Fun for your dog can mean longer, more interesting walks, long hikes or short trips, swimming, dog play dates, or simply more fetch sessions. Dogs enjoy mental stimulation with training, or trying out food puzzles. Cats enjoy play that stimulates their internal predator, a new interactive puzzle toy, a tall cat tree, a perch to watch birds, or a bird video on TV. Cats can also learn new tricks, such as walking with a harness and leash. All pets, especially seniors, need appropriate exercise and mental stimulation to help them stay fit and young at heart. 

Pet resolution #2: Set a healthy weight goal

According to the Pet Obesity Prevention Survey, approximately 60% of U.S. pets are overweight, making it the most common preventable health problem. Overweight pets face challenges with their health and mobility, have a shortened lifespan, and tend to be more sedentary, interact less with their owners, and have a lower quality of life.

Start the new year right with a weight management consultation at Acorn Animal Hospital, where we can calculate your pet’s body condition score, and suggest the type and amount of food they should eat for optimal health. So many pet food options are available that we suggest you not focus solely on “ingredients,” but consider the manufacturer’s reputation. We recommend pet food companies that employ a full-time veterinary nutritionist, manufacture the food at their own facility, have established quality control protocols, and conduct nutritional research and feeding trials in accordance with the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).

Pet resolution #3: Stay healthy with preventive care

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. At Acorn Animal Hospital, we believe in the value of preventive care and early disease detection, and recommend annual or semi-annual wellness visits. At a wellness visit, we will ask how your pet is doing at home, perform a nose-to-tail physical exam, discuss any problems noted in their history or during their exam, and recommend ways to improve and maintain your pet’s health.

Preventive care includes keeping your pet current on necessary vaccinations and performing annual internal parasite checks. Many pets, especially seniors or those on chronic medications, need regular lab work to monitor their organ status. A healthy mouth supports a healthy pet, so paying special attention to their teeth and dental care is essential. At home, mark your calendar to ensure that your pet is kept up to date on their flea, tick and heartworm prevention.

Spaying or neutering your pet will help them stay healthy. Unspayed females are at risk for mammary cancer, a potentially deadly uterine infection, and unwanted litters. Intact males are at risk for testicular cancer, may display inappropriate behavior, and have a tendency to wander if they smell a female in heat, and may become lost. 

Pet resolution #4: Watch for early illness signs

Familiarize yourself with your pet’s “normal,” so you can keep an eye out for early illness signs. Pay attention to their eating habits, the amount they drink and urinate, their stool consistency, how they get around, and their overall energy level. Cats are especially secretive about showing illness signs, and may become more sedentary or aloof when they feel unwell. Catching changes in your pet’s health early can significantly improve their response to veterinary medical care.  

Pet resolution #5: Update identification

Nothing is more heartbreaking than losing your pet, but you can easily permanently identify them with a microchip. If your pet already has one, contact the microchip company to ensure their information is current. Veterinary hospitals and shelters all have microchip scanners to help reunite you with your lost pet. Plus, a clearly readable identification tag on your pet’s collar can help neighbors reach you if your pet goes astray. 

The Acorn Animal Hospital team wishes you a healthy and happy New Year. We all know that New Year’s resolutions are hard to keep, but your pet will appreciate being part of your commitment for a healthy year. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions or concerns about how to help your pet thrive in 2021.