Whether you believe in New Year resolutions for yourself or not is your choice. However, when it comes to looking after your dog, Dr. Ernie Ward, DVM on the Pet Health Network has some good advice for dog owners to take into the New Year:
- Don’t buy junk food treats that are packed with calories. Instead try fresh, crunchy veggies or treats with simple ingredients such as sweet potatoes.
- Don’t ignore pet food labels. Know what you are feeding your dog.
- Don’t skip walks. Exercise is too important, for both your dog and yourself, to let the weather become an excuse for not walking your dog. If necessary, invest in booties for your dog and an extra layer for yourself. Commit to walking your dog come what may. If the weather becomes too severe, which it is known to do in Southern Alberta, consider taking your dog to a doggy daycare so he/she can run with other furry friends.
- Don’t put off your dog’s medical exam. If you are concerned that your dog is showing signs of something untoward, reprioritize your spending and have your vet check it out. The worst thing you can hear at some point in the future is “if only you had brought your dog to see me sooner…..”. A vet is there to enhance your dog’s life and to suggest how you can optimize your dog’s health.
- Don’t forget your dog’s heartworm prevention drugs. Heartworm disease is fatal for dogs and, even if you catch it in time, the medication used to treat dogs is costly and can take months to work.
- Don’t ignore negative behaviour. The sooner you start correcting negative behaviour the better as such behaviour left untouched will likely worsen and become more engrained. A firm but fair hand will pay dividends. If you have tried unsuccessfully to correct the problem, speak to your vet or a canine behaviourist.
- Don’t forget to hug your dog every day. For those dogs that don’t particularly enjoy being hugged, show your affection in a different way, for example, by belly rubs or gently stroking your dog behind the ears. Dogs will likely not understand the word “love” but the tone in which you speak to them and the body language you portray will tell them all they need to know. Dogs give us unconditional love: let’s return the favour.
For dogs the New Year is a meaningless concept: it is simply their on-going life. But for us humans we sometimes need a mental reappraisal of what we do and how we do it once the New Year kicks in. In 2020, let’s assess the different aspects of our dog’s life and readjust where necessary to make this year the best we can for our furry friend.
I wish you all a happy, prosperous and fulfilling new year!