January is the month of good intentions, and while some resolutions may be more idealistic than others, there are some easy ways you can help make this year great for your pet.
1. Give them a healthy diet
After the indulgence of December, it’s no surprise many people decide to eat a little more healthily in the new year. But many owners don’t realise that it’s something they can get their pet involved in too.
Getting into the habit of weighing out the recommended daily amount of food for your pet’s age and breed helps avoid overfeeding. You can then divide this daily allowance out however you like: into their regular feeding times, as individual treats, or in treat toys.
Your pet can have a couple of treats now and then, but you should always opt for ones that are low in sugar and starch. Remember to use them sparingly as a reward for good behaviour and reduce the amount of regular food they receive that day.
Your pet’s nutritional needs change as they age, so it’s always a good idea to check whether you need to switch them onto a more suitable diet. Speak to your vet for expert advice, and if you do decide to change, do so gradually to allow your pet to get used to the new diet.
2. Check their dental health
Whether it’s already a part of your pet care routine or not, now’s a great time to get on top of your pet’s dental health. Around 80% of cats and 60% of dogs suffer dental disease by the age of two, but regular brushing, a dry food diet and routine dental checks can help combat these issues.
Take a look at our latest dental videos for more tips and advice about keeping your pet’s teeth clean:
3. Try a new activity
If you’re planning to take up a new activity this January, consider whether your pet can get involved too.
Running, walking and getting outdoors more are resolutions that can all be shared with your dog. This is a great opportunity to exercise together, explore new surroundings and prevent boredom.
If you’re vowing to read more books, doing so while cuddled up with your cat helps strengthen your bond and can reduce their stress levels.
If sorting out the garden is top of your list, give your rabbits extra time in their outdoor run while you’re working. This allows them to stretch their legs and explore more of their natural surroundings.
4. Book your health checks
Regular health checks are an important part of your pet’s ongoing care, giving your vet the opportunity to look for any signs of illness and offer advice on at-home care. It also gives you the chance to ask any questions and make sure your pet’s getting everything they need.
Book your pet’s regular health checks at the start of the year and note them in your calendar – we recommend one every six months.
5. Organise pet insurance
You may already have pet insurance, but if not, now’s a great time to consider the benefits. Accidents and illness can happen at any time (and at any age) and it’s comforting to know that the cost of care will be covered if it’s ever needed.
There are many different types of policies available to suit your pet’s needs; your practice team will be happy to answer any questions you may have about pet insurance.
6. Get on top of grooming
Grooming doesn’t just keep your pet’s fur in check, it also strengthens your bond and gives you a chance to check for hidden injuries, ticks and skin issues. Try and stick to a regular grooming routine this year to keep them safe, happy and healthy.
Depending on your pet’s breed and fur type, you may need to brush daily or weekly; your vet will be happy to advise you on what’s best for your pet. They’ll also let you know the best brushes and combs to suit your pet’s coat.
7. Give your pet a fresh start
Your pet’s belongings can build up bacteria over time which can make them ill or harbour dormant flea eggs. Resolve to deep clean their bedding, blankets, toys and food and water bowls to give your pet a fresh start to the year. Make sure to use pet-safe cleaning products and dry everything thoroughly.
If bedding, toys or hutches are starting to show their age, now might be a good time to consider replacing them with newer versions instead.
8. Book your holiday care
If you’re planning to travel abroad without your pet this year, it’s never too early to organise a pet sitter, kennel or cattery. Spaces fill up quickly, especially during the peak summer months, so getting organised now will make sure your pet’s well looked after in your absence.
Take a look at our tips and advice about finding the right pet sitter.
9. Update their microchip details
Microchips are the best way to ensure your pet can be identified if they ever get lost or go missing. In fact, it’s a legal requirement in dogs over the age of eight weeks.
However, if your details aren’t up to date on the system, your pet’s microchip can’t do its job properly. Set time aside to check your contact details are correct this new year, especially if you’ve moved house recently.
10. Organise vaccinations
Pets need regular booster vaccinations throughout their lives to keep them protected from dangerous diseases. These are usually given at either one- or three-year intervals, depending on the vaccine.
Speak to your vet practice to find out when your pet’s next booster is due and book it early so you don’t forget.
11. Plan their parasite treatment
Preventing fleas, ticks and worms is a fact of life for pet owners. These groups of parasites are not only irritating and painful for your pet, but they can also cause more serious health issues like disease and infection. Protecting your pet is very simple but it does need to be done regularly, so planning in advance is essential.
As well as organising repeat prescriptions for suitable pet parasite treatments, set out regular ‘deep cleaning days’ a few times a year to fully clean your soft furnishings to remove eggs and larvae that may be lurking within.
Most owners know to visit their vet when their pet is ill or injured, but did you know regular appointments throughout the year can be just as beneficial for healthy pets?