Welcome to the new year! If you’re like us, you’re ready to fill the next 12 months with healthy and empowered decision-making, intentional activities, and lots of quality time with your pet. To learn how to accomplish these goals, read our Terra Linda Veterinary Hospital team’s five pet-centric New Year’s resolutions that help ensure this year—and the many to come—will be increasingly happy and healthy.

Goal #1: Protect your pet’s health through preventive care

Actions: Although your pet’s preventive care may seem overwhelming, you can actually accomplish this goal easily. In addition, achieving this resolution can help keep you motivated to reach the others on this list. Protecting your pet’s health begins with a visit to our Terra Linda Veterinary Hospital team, during which our compassionate and knowledgeable professionals can provide you with everything you need to maintain and promote your pet’s total health.

As the term suggests, preventive care is a proactive effort to prevent illness, injury, and other conditions that can negatively affect your pet’s health. Your pet’s annual examination is the preventive care cornerstone, and the benefits last all year:

  • Early disease detection — Routine exams and lab work allow your veterinarian to note subtle changes in your pet’s health before an adverse condition becomes severe.
  • Vaccinations — Vaccines educate your pet’s immune system and protect against common infectious diseases.
  • Screening tests — Your pet’s heartworm, vector-borne disease, and fecal screenings detect hidden parasitic infections that can be deadly or debilitating. 
  • Parasite protection Disease-carrying fleas, ticks, intestinal worms, and mosquitoes are no match for your pet’s year-round parasite preventives, and you must ensure your four-legged friend receives them regularly.
  • Nutritional guidance — How you fill your pet’s bowl has an enormous impact on their quality of life and longevity. Our team will coach you on feeding your pet a healthy diet, recommending the food and amount they should receive daily. If your pet is overweight, we will provide weight-loss guidance to help your furry pal slim down.
  • Individualized recommendations — Our Terra Linda Veterinary Hospital team has a wealth of pet knowledge. We can provide you with recommendations on pet behavior and training, travel tips, exercise plans, and more, because our veterinarians and veterinary technicians are knowledgeable about all pet health and care aspects.

Goal #2: Establish your pet’s health baseline

Actions: Through your pet’s annual wellness exams, our team can establish their baseline or normal diagnostic testing results—including individual quirks or trends that may otherwise be considered unusual. Knowing your pet’s baseline diagnostic testing results enables our veterinarians to develop a more nuanced review of blood work or diagnostic testing findings. In other words, the more we know about your pet when they are well, the more likely we’ll be able to identify subtle changes long before they become a serious health threat. 

Rather than postponing your pet’s annual examination because they seem fine, remember that preventive care is a long-term investment. One visit per year can create a positive ripple effect, providing your pet with lifelong health benefits.

Goal #3: Help your pet get in shape with daily exercise

Actions: Nearly 60% of U.S. cats and dogs are overweight or obese, and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle is a large—pun intended—part of the problem. No matter their age, pets need regular exercise to support a healthy muscle mass, maintain an appropriate body weight, reduce stress and boredom-related behaviors, and strengthen the pet-owner bond. Young and senior pets, and those who have health conditions should be exercised cautiously to help avoid injuries and pain. Ask your veterinarian about safe activities for your pet. 

If you enjoy technology, use a pet activity collar, such as Fi or Tractive, to track your pet’s daily activity and compare step counts, but give yourself a handicap—you only have two legs to their four! Like fitness watches for humans, these pet collars monitor activity, rest, and sleep to give you an overall idea of your furry pal’s wellness.

Goal #4: Learn to feed your pet appropriately

Actions: Feeding your pet appropriately is more than filling their bowl. Your pet’s nutrition has a direct correlation with their health and wellness. The adage about humans also applies to animals—your pet is what they eat—and if you’re feeding them an inappropriate diet filled with unnecessary preservatives, carbohydrates, and fillers, they likely don’t feel their best. Your Terra Linda Veterinary Hospital veterinarian is your best resource for your pet’s personalized feeding recommendations—including brand, formula, and amount to feed your four-legged friend per day.

Your pet’s nutrition is more than food type and amount. This year, rethink how you provide your pet’s food. These considerations include:

  • Meal feeding — Allowing your pet to graze on one bowl of food can encourage bad habits such as pickiness and overeating. Divide your pet’s daily portion into two meals, and after 20 minutes, take away any food they have left uneaten.
  • Slow feeding — Slow eating is the human trend that encourages people to consume food in an unhurried fashion. Similarly, slow feeding is the pet feeding trend that prevents your furry pal from gulping their food, promoting better digestion. Replace your pet’s bowl with a snuffle mat, kibble-dispensing toy, or lickable mat. 
  • Less is more — Adjust your pet’s food portions on days when they are less active or when they have consumed more treats (e.g., during training or veterinary visits). 

Goal #5: Prioritize your pet’s dental health

Actions: Lift your pet’s lip and take a close look at their oral health. Dental disease is a serious condition that causes pain, infection, tooth loss, and bone erosion. In severe cases, harmful bacteria can enter your pet’s bloodstream, damaging their heart, liver, and kidneys. 

Schedule a dental consultation if your pet displays mouth sensitivity, irritated gums (i.e., gingivitis), bad breath, visible tartar, or broken teeth. If your pet is young or displays none of these signs, begin brushing their teeth with pet-safe toothpaste at least three times per week. 

By following these five New Year’s pet health resolutions, you can help improve your four-legged friend’s life, transforming the next 12 months into a lifetime of health, happiness, and better quality of life. Schedule an appointment with our Terra Linda Veterinary Hospital team, and take control of your pet’s healthy future today.