What better time than the start of a new year to focus on your furry pal’s wellness? Often, the resolutions that top a person’s list revolve around mental and physical health, and the same can hold true for your pet. By focusing on their wellness care, you can improve your pet’s health and happiness, and increase their quality of life long beyond 2023. Stick to the following top New Year’s resolutions to help your pet put their best paw forward to better health.

#1: Dial in prophylactic dental care

Your pet’s periodontal health affects more than just their mouth. As oral bacteria accumulate on the teeth, gums, and oral tissues, they can slip into the bloodstream, traveling to the heart, kidneys, and other organs and causing disease. Since the vast majority of pets—up to 85%—have some form of dental disease by age 3, starting a periodontal care regimen is vital. Preventive oral health care includes:

If you notice that your pet already has plaque and tartar accumulation in the form of yellow, brown, or gray material on their teeth, start with a professional dental cleaning. Once they have a clean slate—and teeth—begin your daily at-home dental care regimen to keep their teeth in tip-top shape.

#2: Prevent parasitic infections

Though tiny, internal and external parasites can cause significant illness in pets and people. Parasites that commonly infect pets include:

  • Fleas
  • Ticks
  • Heartworms
  • Intestinal worms and protozoa
  • Ear and skin mites

Parasitic infections cause a wide range of illness signs that may not appear immediately after your pet has become infected. For example, heartworm disease can take years to cause the hallmark signs of coughing, exercise intolerance, and a distended fluid-filled abdomen. Be on the lookout for signs of a potential parasitic infection, such as:

  • Scratching, licking, and chewing
  • Shaking the head and scratching the ears
  • Lameness
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Coughing
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Red, dry, scaly, or irritated skin
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Appetite loss
  • Bleeding issues

Many of these parasites and their associated illnesses can be challenging to treat and can cause lasting health issues, so year-round prevention is key for a healthy pet. With oral, topical, and injectable parasite prevention options, our team can find the right product for your pet.

#3: Endeavor to exercise more

More than half of the pet population is overweight or obese, so an improper diet and poor exercise routine need to be addressed to prevent your furry pal from becoming more fat than fluff. Many pets are too sedentary to burn off the calories they consume, which leads to weight gain. Reverse this trend by incorporating more exercise into your pet’s daily routine. Add a 15-minute walk or play session in the morning before work, and set aside time on the weekend for longer stretches of moderate activity. Try the following fun options to get your pet moving:

  • Walk in new locations and reserve plenty of time to sniff
  • Let your dog run and fetch off-leash in a fenced-in park
  • Learn your cat’s prey preference and buy toys that mimic their chosen species
  • Swimming 
  • Training
  • Canine sporting events

Adding new ways to exercise will help keep you and your pet interested in being active, so try various options to see what piques your pet’s interest.

#4: Train the brain

It has to be boring for pets to wait home alone all day for their families to return from school and work. Entertain your pet while you are gone by providing treat puzzles and interactive toys. Robotic mice dart and weave around, enticing cats to pounce on them. An automatic ball launcher will have your pup soon learning how to drop the ball in the machine to start an invigorating game of fetch.

When you are home with your furry pal, try out different enrichment activities. Skills and obedience training are wonderful options, as is nose work for dogs and food puzzles for cats.

#5: Welcome a lifetime of wellness and preventive care

Wellness and preventive care are  the most important things you can do to help your pet live a long, healthy, and happy life. Scheduling annual or biannual wellness exams protects your pet through:

  • Disease-preventing vaccinations
  • Early detection screening tests
  • Establishment of baseline normal values
  • Discussions about preventive health care, such as dental care, behavior management, grooming, and diet

Ring in the new year by giving our Dove Mountain Veterinary team a ring to schedule your furry pal’s wellness appointment.