A new year is fast approaching! While the past two years have been unpredictable and unprecedented, there are ways to plan and execute simple changes to our lifestyles and behavior that will improve the health of our pets. Dr Aziza shares a few suggestions that would be a great addition to any New Year’s Resolutions list.
Adopt an exercise routine
Obesity is one of the main diseases affecting our pets. It is a serious problem because of the secondary health problems that arise from, contribute to, or are exacerbated by obesity. For example, obese dogs are more likely to develop diabetes mellitus, and those with osteoarthritis are likely to have more pain and difficulty walking. Obesity can also complicate surgical procedures and post-surgical recoveries.
Fortunately, obesity in dogs can be treated by simply making lifestyle changes, and exercise is one of the most powerful tools in combating it. Regular, good quality exercise makes a huge difference in how pets burn crucial calories for weight loss. But what exactly makes good quality exercise? It all depends on the dog. A small breed or miniature breed dog will not need the same amount of exercise as a large breed dog. Age also affects the type of exercise the body will tolerate. For example, a 3 year old dog will have more energy to exercise than a 13 year old dog.
One of the added benefits of increasing your dog’s exercise is that you will also increase your exercise. Think about it. You will be walking, running or swimming with your dog more regularly – this is what I call a win-win situation!
Focus on healthy eating
While exercise is essential for burning calories, it is also important to be mindful of the calories consumed. When it comes to what our pets eat, it’s completely in our control. From how much they eat to how often they eat to the type of diet and treats, everything is handled by pet parents.
Think of foods as having a high or low calorie density – for example, a large salad has fewer calories than a hamburger, but both meals will fill you up and satisfy your hunger. Now let’s apply it to our dog’s diet. There are many high calorie over the counter diets that will always leave your pet hungry all day long. Instead, I recommend switching to diets that are low in calories and have high-quality ingredients, like fiber, that will help your pet feel fuller for longer. the best dog food options are Nature’s Freshpet’s Fresh Chicken Where Vital Balance Turkey receipts.
Now that the main meals have been covered, the next thing we need to do is tackle the treats. We love to give our dogs treats and that’s great, but if losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight is a goal, the treats can’t be ignored. The good news is, you don’t have to cut out treats entirely – you can switch to tasty, nutritious, and low-calorie foods. For example, blueberries, strawberries, fresh green beans, pineapples, apples, bananas, and carrots are all great alternatives to typical cookies that are high in calories and have little nutritional value. Plus, you don’t have to feel guilty if you feed your dog a little more than usual! Still want to treat your puppy with a special treat, like bacon every now and then? No worries, Freshpet has Dog Joy Turkey Bacon Treats which are low in sodium, wood-smoked and low in calories. No guilt in there!
Make dental care a priority
Another common illness that vets see that can be easily prevented and managed is periodontal disease. Your dog’s mouth shouldn’t smell like a garbage can, and his teeth should not be covered with yellow, green, or gray rock-like material. It’s not normal, nor healthy – it’s a sign of progressive periodontal disease.
Dental disease can cause infection, bad breath, difficulty eating, and loss of teeth. For the year 2022, try to do something to help your puppy maintain good oral health. This could mean annual dental cleanings and extractions as needed (if dental extractions are recommended, it’s usually because the dental disease is so severe that the teeth do more harm than good by being there). Try brushing your dog’s teeth daily or adding a helpful oral health additive to his bowl of water. There are even dental chews that help slow the progression of dental disease!
Stay up to date on preventive medicine
Sometimes our lives can be so busy that we forget to keep track of our pet’s health, especially its preventive care. If so, don’t worry, in 2022 you will be back on track! Start by making sure that you take your dog to the vet for his annual check-up and that all of his vaccines are up to date. This is also a good time to make sure they are taking a good flea and heartworm preventative medication. Mosquitoes spread heartworm disease and infect our dogs. Even if you live in cold environments, cases are diagnosed all over the country and disease prevention is better than treatment.
If your dog has previously been diagnosed with conditions like hypothyroidism or diabetes mellitus, New Years is a great time to go to your vet for some tests to assess whether your current medication is working or needs adjustment. It is an important part of maintaining chronic disease and the best way to increase the effectiveness of treatment and quality of life.
Invest in pet insurance
The last recommendation I would make as you plan for 2022 is to prepare yourself financially. One of the hardest things about veterinary medicine is that the majority of the care is a personal expense. While this may be fine for a routine checkup or checkup, it can be financially devastating if something serious happens, such as if your dog poisons, fights a dog, or eats a sock (it does happen). These high unanticipated costs can place a heavy financial burden on your family and sometimes cause people to make difficult decisions.
Knowing this, I recommend all pet parents to purchase pet insurance. This is the closest thing to medical insurance for our pets. Like human medical insurance, there may be limitations due to pre-existing conditions or racial predispositions. However, pet insurance policies can be tailored to suit your needs and can cover emergency surgeries, alternative medicine (i.e. acupuncture), advanced diagnostic testing, and more. Take the time to shop around and see which plan best suits your needs and finances so you are better prepared when the unexpected happens.
In addition to these ways you can transform the health of your pet, we have one more way to help you transform the health of our planet in 2022. By switching to Freshpet, you join us in our mission to improve our place in the world. Whether it is having a zero carbon footprint and being landfill-free to the use of wind energy to power all the places where our healthy dog food is done, we are committed to minimizing our impact on the planet. You can find out more about our commitment to the planet here.
From our Freshpet family to yours, Happy New Year!