Resolutions don't stop with people

Posted: Sunday, January 04, 2004

Once again the calender has flipped to a new year, and with it comes all the resolutions often centered on self improvement.

But what about our pets?

Many of our animal friends could use some improvements in their lives. So while setting goals for ourselves in 2004, why not make a few changes for pets as well?

If not already taking pets to a veterinarian for yearly examinations, make it a resolution to start. Not only should all pets be vaccinated yearly, but annual examinations often can detect hidden ailments before they become serious heath conditions. Maintaining animal health not only ensures pets live longer, but also can save owners money in the long run.

Another resolution could be to have pets spayed or neutered. Not only are there numerous health benefits to having pets fixed, but it also makes certain that pets can't contribute to the overpopulation problem.

Overpopulation has become a global problem, but that doesn't mean it can't be addressed at the community level. If your pets are already fixed, consider making a resolution to sponsor an animal at a local shelter that needs to be spayed or neutered.

Getting in shape is always a popular resolution and there's no reason not to include pudgy pooches or tabbies with big tummies. Recruit obese pets as training partners so you can get fit together.

Start by making sure pets are being fed the appropriate amounts and that their diet is based on a well-balanced, high quality pet food.

Whether relating to weight reduction or as a resolution itself, make exercising pets a routine. Schedule daily walks and designate time specifically for play.

Taking pets to training classes such as obedience or agility can be a good source of exercise. Training dogs to be better behaved can be a resolution itself.

Another resolution could be to keep animals properly groomed. Brush dogs and cats more frequently. This not only makes pets feel better and reduces hairballs, but it can cut down on the amount of pet hair on clothes and furniture. Clip nails regularly.

Mist or shower birds a few times a week, and keep up with wing and nail trimmings to keep them properly groomed, as well.

If pet identification and emergency plans aren't up to date, make that a resolution in the new year. All pets should have at least one form of identification, such as a tag with their name, phone number and address. However, it never hurts to have a back-up identification system like a microchip, just in case.

If you don't already have a copy of your pet's medical records with an up-to-date photo, put one together. This can save precious time in an emergency, or if a pet is lost.

Make certain the phone numbers for after-hours or emergency veterinary clinics are still accurate. Make a copy for your wallet or purse, and leave one with a close friend who is comfortable with your pets. Regardless of which of these resolutions you choose, or if you come up with one on your own, make 2004 the happiest, healthiest year you and your pet have ever had.

Joseph Robertia is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion. He has worked with wildlife and domestic animals for more than 10 years as a veterinary technician, a zoo keeper, and most recently as a zoologist for the Wildlife Conservation Society. He welcomes any pet-related questions or story ideas, but please none of a veterinary nature. Ideas and questions can be sent to his attention by e-mail at

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