The New Year is an excellent time to reflect on your relationship with your pet and set some goals for the year ahead. If you donít already own a pet, maybe you should make a resolution to find one that suits your lifestyle. According to a study by psychologists at Miami University and Saint Louis University, pet owners were happier, healthier and better adjusted than non-pet owners.
If you do own a pet, here are a few resolutions to consider for the year ahead.
1. Lose Weight The majority of pets are overweight with many falling into the obese category. An American study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) found 52.5 percent of dogs and 58.3 percent of cats to be overweight or obese by their veterinarian.
In Australia, a 2005 study from the School of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney and RSPCA Australia found that over 40% of dogs were overweight or obese.
Weight issues are more common in dogs and cats because they are the most common domestic animals, but any pet can carry excess weight if they have a poor diet and lack of exercise. So if your budgie is pudgy, its time to get to the vet to discuss a safe way to trim them down.
Excess weight in pets causes a range of health problems including diabetes, arthritis, skin conditions, and decreased lifespan. Studies have shown that owners of overweight pets tend to be overweight themselves. By focusing on a high quality nutritional diet that is appropriate for your pet, combined with exercise you can help your pet shed the excess weight (and maybe even improve your own overall health as well).
2. Make good health a priority In addition to the regular visits to the Vet, there are steps you can take to improve your petís health and prevent chronic health issues. Maintaining healthy teeth and gums is one area you can concentrate on in the new year and beyond. The Australia Veterinary Association has some great resources available here to assist you with looking after the teeth of cats, dogs, horses, rabbits and guinea pigs.
Other preventative health measures you can take are regular grooming, exercise, worming/ pest control, and nutritional supplements. The area of nutritional supplements for pets is growing, with evidence showing that some supplements can help ageing pets with arthritis and other health conditions. Speak with your veterinarian at your next visits about nutritional supplements.
3. Plan for the future At the start of the new year you may be casting your eye to the future and making big plans. Take a moment to see how your pet fits into your overall goals. If you are planning a 6 week European holiday, plan now for how your pet will be looked after. One option to consider is a house-sitter.
You may also start thinking about pet insurance (or if you already have pet insurance, you may shop around for a plan that is better suited to your budget and petís needs). You may also consider Pet Estate Planning.
Other plans for the future can include looking for ways to save money on pet toys or essentials, or even committing to creating memories with your pets through photos.
And if for any reason you have a pet that does not suit your lifestyle or your are unable to provide it with the care and attention they deserve, be responsible and find them a new home. Pets make excellent companions- but the quality of the relationship is reflective of the owner. Love your pets and take good care of them and you will have many happy new years to come.