The start of a new year is a popular time to make resolutions and refocus on physical and mental health. It is also a great time to set similar goals for your pet. Our furry friends benefit greatly when we spend time attending to their physical and mental well-being. Consider these eight suggestions to keep your pet in tip-top shape this year, and the years to come. 

#1: Schedule an annual exam

Regardless of your pet’s health status, set the bar high, and make an appointment for her annual wellness exam with her Southwest Vet veterinarian. A yearly exam not only evaluates your pet’s health status, but is also a great opportunity for you to discuss any of your concerns. Come prepared with the following information to ensure your pet receives a thorough assessment:

  • Notes about your pet’s appetite, elimination habits, behavior changes, and any vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, or other signs 
  • Your pet’s diet, including treats, and quantities
  • Any medications, preventives, or supplements your pet is receiving

#2: Stock up on preventive medications

The annual exam appointment is the perfect opportunity to bring your pet up-to-date on her parasite prevention. Here in Austin, heartworms, fleas, and other unwelcome bugs can be quite common in our furry friends, and we recommend year-round prevention for all pets. Our veterinary team can help you decide on the right product for your individual pet. 

#3: Start an oral-hygiene routine

If you haven’t already, consider beginning an at-home dental routine to keep your pet’s mouth squeaky clean. People need to brush their teeth daily to keep plaque and tartar at bay, and our pets need the same level of care. While toothbrushing is ideal, other options exist, such as antiseptic rinses, wipes, and water additives. Talk to our veterinary team about the many dental-care options for pets, and check out our promotions for dental cleaning discounts and other specials we offer year-round. 

#4: Analyze your pet’s diet

Nutrition is key to a healthy pet, so take the time to choose wholesome pet food for your furry friend. Many reputable commercial brands are available, but if you are unsure about the best diet for your pet, contact our veterinary team, or set up an appointment. Remember that portion size is crucial in managing your pet’s weight, and feeding guidelines from pet food manufacturers may not be appropriate for every pet based on their current health. To determine how much food your pet should be eating, talk to your veterinarian. 

#5: Prioritize exercise

It is no secret that physical activity is crucial for overall well-being. Whether it be a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood or an active agility session, make some form of physical exercise with your pet a priority every day, and you may notice you both have a little extra spring in your step. If your pet has an underlying medical condition, consult our veterinary team prior to beginning a new exercise regimen. 

#6: Get social

Social health is as important for pets as for people, especially in the early, formative years. Take opportunities to safely—and legally—bring your pet out in public to allow her to experience more than her own backyard. Beaches, parks, and pet-friendly offices are great ways to expose your pet to new surroundings, but always ensure the outing is enjoyable, and cut it short if your pet shows signs of overstimulation. Training classes are also great opportunities for socialization. Learn more about canine behavior training here

#7 Make feeding fun

While many pets will happily gobble up their food, why not make mealtime fun and last a little longer? Puzzle feeders are a great way to slow down voracious eaters, encourage pets to work harder for their meals, and to provide a mentally stimulating component to feeding. 

#8: Rethink play-time

Not only should playing with your pet be a daily occurrence, but you should also keep this time fun and stimulating by switching things up. Consider rotating your pet’s toys, so she isn’t exposed to the same items over and over, which can cause boredom and destructive behaviors. Incorporate toys and games that stimulate the senses by sprinkling a little cinnamon or mint inside a stuffed toy, purchasing or making toys with different sounds, and allowing your pet to safely play on different surfaces, such as sand or water. You could also create a do-it-yourself obstacle course that you change up every week for a new challenge. Adequate, stimulating, and challenging play-time is key to your pet’s mental and behavioral health. 

Are you ready to help your pet become as fit as she can in 2020? Contact us to schedule her annual exam, and come prepared with questions for our veterinary team.