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Resolutions for you and your pet

Sitting down, thinking about what you want to accomplish for the new year? Same old stuff. Exercise, lose weight, take the dog to the park, pay more attention to your cat. These aren’t so bad. You make your list and really mean it this time.

We may enjoy the feeling of a fresh start and the refocusing that the new year brings. Here are some ideas and tips to hopefully enhance the health and add some fun to your pets’ lives.

With the start of a new year, thoughts usually turn to diet and exercise, trying to make up for the holiday indulgences. Pets can also have issues from overeating and lack of exercise. There are more things to consider than diet and exercise when it comes to our pets. Here are some tips for a healthier lifestyle for our pets and animals in need.

Exercise obviously has health benefits but it is also a good time to bond with our pets. From a simple walk around the block to throwing a ball at the dog park, this resolution has benefits for humans as well. Walking potentially can relieve some stress of the day while providing exercise. It is important to keep pets at a proper body weight which can reduce future health problems.

A regular visit to your veterinarian for an overall health check is important to stay ahead of any potential problems. Annual examinations can be less costly in order to prevent the potential of a problem developing. A regular visit also establishes a good baseline of information about your pet, giving your veterinarian something to compare when something just isn’t right.

Good nutrition is important. Like humans, pets that eat poor quality food don’t have the same health reserves as those that have a good balanced diet. Poor skin, hair coat, muscle tone and obesity problems can be a result of a poor diet. You need to remember that pets are not humans, though. A rich diet of table scraps is not a healthy one and can lead to problems.

Your pet needs a good grooming. No one wants to be around a stinky, dirty pet. Regular grooming includes a bath, toe nail clipping, brushing teeth and hair coat. This not only makes your pet more pleasing to be around, it is much healthier for your pet.

Now, have you ever wondered what resolutions your pet may be thinking of? Just don’t say anything if they fall short of their goal though.

Of course they will eat less and exercise more. Doesn’t this sound familiar? Less time on the couch, fewer dog biscuits or cat treats. More time running around and more time playing with toys.

Dogs promise to beg less and cats will be friendlier to strangers. Begging will only be for something worthwhile and cats will be friendlier by making an appearance before going under the bed.

Cats will be more social with the family, except the dog, unless he promises to stay out of the litter box. This brings us to your dog as he does promise to stay out of the litter box, for now.

Furniture seems to be a mutual resolution. Your dog promises to not use furniture like a fire hydrant while your cat promises to use the scratching post and not the furniture. Your dog has already marked his territory anyway and the cat has scratched enough of the furniture to show who the boss really is.

Cats won’t be so finicky about their food as long as it’s the right texture, taste and temperature, and given at the right time each day. Dogs won’t steal food as much, unless you make it easy for them.

Your dog will introduce himself to humans in a different way because he gets the feeling the normal greeting invades their private space. Your cat will stay off the counter, at least when company is around. When everyone’s gone, exploring the countertops will continue.

Finally, both cats and dogs will be more tolerant of those homemade bandannas, knowing you went through a lot of trouble making them in the first place. Happy New Year to everyone from all of us at Manatee County Animal Services!

Kris Weiskopf, chief of Manatee County Animal Services, writes this weekly column for the Bradenton Herald.