MANHATTAN, Kansas, Jan. 24 /U.S. Newswire/ — Now that the new year is well underway and you have your own resolutions either under control or long-forgotten, it may be time to set some goals for your pet.
Susan Nelson, assistant professor at Kansas State University’s Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital and four fourth year veterinary medicine students — Christine Cocquyt, Greg Dobkin, Chris Brown and Sarah Boller — offered these suggestions for New Year’s resolutions for pet owners.
- Make sure your pet sees a veterinarian at least once a year for annual exams. This includes keeping its vaccine status up-to- date and checking for dental health, lumps and bumps, heart murmurs and other things an owner may not notice at home.
- Be consistent with at-home health care for your pet, and give prescribed medication as directed. Keep your pet on year- round, monthly heartworm preventative. Regularly use flea/tick prevention, even if you have an indoor pet.
- Get some sort of pet identification, whether it be a tag or a microchip. Photos are also a good way to help identify your pet if it should become lost. In general, try not to let your pet roam free. Keep it on a leash or in a fenced yard.
- Pay attention to your pet. They get bored and may become destructive without attention. Polish up your pet’s manners. Practice at home or go to obedience classes. Teach your pet a new, fun, interactive game like fetch or speak. It keeps your pet motivated. Learn pet massage. Not only can this help to give relief to older, arthritic animals, it is also a good way to bond with your pet.
- Pay attention to your pet’s hygiene. Trim the fat! Exercise and limit treats. “”Treats do not equal love,”” Cocquyt said. Groom your pet regularly. It’s interactive and it’s good to get dead hair out of the coat. You may also discover lumps or bumps that need to be checked by your veterinarian. Brush your pet’s teeth and/or have a professional take care of your pet’s dental hygiene. Learn to clip your pet’s toenails or take them somewhere to have them clipped. Long nails are uncomfortable and sometimes grow into foot pads or break, which is very painful. Scoop your cat’s litter box daily. Do an entire litter change once a week.
- Spay and neuter your pet. Not only does it decrease the pet population, but it also has a lot of health benefits for the animal. “”In spayed females, we see a decrease in mammary or breast cancer, uterine infection, uterine cancer and ovarian cancer,”” Nelson said. “”In neutered males, we see a decrease in prostate problems, testicular cancer, roaming, urine marking and inter-male fighting.””
- Make sure collars fit properly, and check the collar often. You should be able to slide two fingers underneath the collar. For dogs, try a pet halter called a Gentle Leader. You avoid tugging and pulling on your dog’s neck. It’s especially good for unruly, big dogs.
- Pet proof your house. Keep poisons in locked cabinets, keep poisonous plants and electrical cords out of reach and don’t leave out strings or ribbons for a cat to swallow.
- Learn a fun fact about your pet’s species or breed. Research traits of a breed before buying it.
- Donate money or items to your local animal shelter. They take in stray animals that often turn out to be lost pets. “”One day, it could be your pet they reunite with its owner,”” Nelson said.