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New Year, New Dog

Goals Aren’t Just for People

The start of a new year can also signal a fresh start for dogs needing a change in their routine. For example, with over 50% of pets in the U.S. are classified as overweight, there’s no better time for owners to commit to a new food and exercise regimen for their dogs. Need more ideas?

Here are 10 resolutions to make this year your dog’s healthiest year yet!

As a new year begins, many of us take the opportunity to set goals for the months ahead. Perhaps you want to eat better, exercise more or lose a couple of those holiday pounds. Personally I want all 3 of those.

This year, consider your pets when making New Year’s resolutions. Just like us, they could benefit from improvements to their wellness routines, but they can’t make resolutions on their own.

Here are some New Year’s resolution ideas from us here at Braden Run that will help promote a happier, healthier year for your four-legged friends & you!

Measure Your Dog’s Food - Every Time! Perform a Diet Audit on your pet’s food intake & what’s in the bag

The New Year is the perfect time to evaluate what, when and how much your pet is eating. Many owners ‘eyeball’ their pet’s daily intake and pour that into a bowl, usually resulting in overfeeding and weight gain. Instead, use a measuring cup to ensure that your pet is receiving the proper amount of food at every meal. The food bag can provide general guidance, but your veterinarian can advise you on the appropriate portion for your pet. Here at Braden Run we can create a nutrition plan tailored to your pet’s specific needs, whether they need to start a weight loss journey or a maintenance plan we can help you out!

This is also a good time to ensure that your pet is eating the proper diet for their age and nutritional requirements. Choosing a diet specifically tailored to your pet’s life stage is a great way to keep them in optimal health. Dr. McMillen & staff recommend and feed Purina Pro Plan to our pets. It is a nutrient packed food and extremely palatable. It’s important to use an 8-ounce measuring cup to ensure your dog isn’t taking in more calories than they need. The recommended feeding guidelines on the bag are good place to start to figure out how much food your pet really needs. Older dogs and those who have been spayed or neutered generally have lower energy needs than young, intact animals. Growing dogs have very specific nutrient requirements to ensure their bodies grow healthy and strong. For example, some senior dogs may have lower energy requirements, but have other medical issues like degenerative joint disease that may be helped with the appropriate food. Choosing a food specifically tailored to your dog’s life stage is a great way to keep them in optimal health. Ask your Veterinarian about prescription diets for help with Joint disease, weight management, & skin and coat health!

Puzzle Feeders for the win

Even small changes can improve your pet’s day-to-day life. To easily engage your dog or cat, spice up mealtime with a puzzle feeder. Puzzle toys increase your pet’s mental stimulation and daily life enrichment. Simply switching up your meal delivery by using a puzzle feeder is a wonderful and easy way to improve your pet’s life and encourage good behavior.

Try a New Activity with Your Dog

If you’ve been noticing your dog or cat seems extra “fluffy” lately, take this opportunity to face the scale and make a weight loss plan. The rise in pet obesity can primarily be attributed to feeding habits including overfeeding, high calorie treats and table snacks. Obesity has detrimental effects on the overall health and life span of pets, including osteoarthritis, diabetes and dermatological problems that affect the skin, hair and coat. But many diseases can be avoided by maintaining a healthy weight. Work with your veterinarian to determine the best weight loss regimen for your pet. They can calculate the appropriate amount of calories your pet needs for daily requirements as well as the percentage of caloric decrease that should be done for weight loss to avoid hunger or losing weight too quickly.

From doga (Dog Yoga) to hiking, skijoring to kayaking, it’s easier than ever for people to incorporate their dog into a new exercise routine. It’s a great way to bond, it’ll get you both out of the house, and both owner and dog will reap the rewards of a healthy physical activity. Meet-up groups are a great way to find like-minded dog owners to join you in your exercise, too. If you’re resolving to get in shape this year, add more walks to your exercise regimen. They’re great for your health and offer numerous benefits for your dog. Walks provide exercise, but they also provide a big heap of enrichment through the smells and sounds of the dog’s environment. A walk is a great way to bond with your dog, and it’s a nice bonus that walking is healthy for us humans, too. However, during the winter months, discuss these walks with your veterinarian. Care should be taken to use dog booties or certain paw care waxes to avoid extreme heat, cold, rock salt or foreign objects that can cause irritation or trauma to the paw. Paws should be washed off after walks to decontaminate them from outside hazards, such as sidewalk salt, grease, and vehicle chemicals. Walks are great, but it can also be fun to engage your pup in other forms of dynamic exercise, such as agility training. If your dog loves training and agility, take a few extra classes or try competition for the first time, it’s a great way to spend time with your dog and help them be healthier and happier.

Everyone knows that most dogs enjoy a good game of fetch. But few pet parents understand how important play is for our cats. Interactive play is a great way to bond with cats, give them good physical exercise and reduce many behavior problems. Regular daily play sessions decrease demanding behavior, build confidence in shyer cats and promote positive feelings between cats in multi-cat homes. Depending on your cat’s age and health, schedule sessions anywhere from 5-15 minutes to reap the benefits.

Wellness Care

To start your year off right, one of the best things you can do for your pet is to establish an at-home dental care routine. Both dogs and cats benefit from teeth brushing, start by brushing your pet's teeth a few nights a week we recommend working up to daily brushings. Sometimes a very slow introduction to teeth brushing, such as one side once a day can be helpful, a lot of positive reinforcement should be used to make it a pleasant experience for everyone involved. Additionally, it’s important to have your veterinarian evaluate your pet’s teeth, a professional cleaning or more advanced dental work might be needed. Keep in mind that we run a dental cleaning special of $99 for routine teeth cleanings. These cleanings let us evaluate your pet’s mouth to see if any additional oral surgery is necessary for their overall health and wellness. If your pet appears to be healthy, it may be tempting to skip that annual veterinary appointment, However regular wellness appointments are crucial for ensuring that your pet enjoys many happy and healthy years. Yearly examinations by the veterinarian are a key component of good preventive care. Many medical conditions such as diabetes, arthritis or obesity are common in aging pets and much easier to manage when detected in the early stages of the disease process.

Create an Emergency Pet Plan

Hopefully, the year ahead is calm and peaceful. But emergencies can happen, and it’s important to have a plan in place in the event of an evacuation or natural disaster. Everyone should have an evacuation plan that includes their pets. Identify and create a list of places to evacuate with your pets in the event of disaster, such as pet-friendly hotels or boarding facilities. It’s important to create a pet-friendly survival kit that’s filled with food, medicine and medical records. Make sure to talk with your veterinarian, who can help suggest items for your pet’s specific needs. In the case of a medical emergency there are certain things to keep in mind as well. Emergency situations can be scary, daunting, and sad for pet, the owner, and the veterinary staff. Here are a few things to keep in mind to help your emergency go as smoothly as possible. Have a good relationship with an established veterinary practice. If you take your pets to a low cost clinic for their spay or neuter, and to a farm store for their vaccines, chances are, getting in to a local veterinarian for an emergency will be difficult. Not that they don’t want to see your pet but local clinics only have so many hours in a day and cannot overwork their staff. In emergent situations a new client will most likely be referred to the 24/7 emergency hospital. Have an emergency fund, or a credit card available for emergency situations. The emergency situation may be you need a new furnace (which is what we're going through right now to the tune of $5,000.000, and no, I'm not blaming the furnace repairman), or Heaven forbid, your dog eating poison or being hit by a car. Having funds on hand is less stressful for everyone. Care Credit is a great option for both animal and human emergencies. It lets you pay your bill in full and pay it back with no interest low monthly payments. Be prepared to face the situation. If you don't have an emergency fund, and can't afford care, don't be surprised if euthanasia is recommended as a humane option. No one wants to see an animal suffer and hospitals also cannot operate for free, we do the best we can that you will allow us to do for the animal. Be prepared to take responsibility for your choices before you come in. Remember that we see thousands of patients and clients, so we can't afford to make an exception for you and your pet just this once. Hopefully, this will help folks be better prepared when facing an emergency. Remember, our only goal is to help you, help your pet.

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