Instead of setting lofty New Year’s resolutions for yourself, how about setting some quality health goals for your pets? Of course, you could do both – putting yourself and your fur family on the path towards the best 2021 yet.
That’s a suggestion from Michelle Le Long, chief operating officer NZ at pet insurance provider PD Insurance. “Health is wealth, as the old saying goes. That’s something anyone who’s ever suffered a serious injury or illness will gladly confirm,” she notes.
“A pet’s health is their wealth, too – and taking even better care of your fur babies will save you real money in the long run. Plus, you’ll have a happier pet on your hands.”
Making health a priority in a busy world
Most of us make New Year’s resolutions with the best of intentions. We also want the best when it comes to the health of our pets. However, with busy lifestyles, any number of distractions and the harsh realities of attempting a life/work balance, our own health and that of our pets can easily slip.
“By setting clear goals for your pet – such as more walkies, fewer treats, perhaps a few kilograms off, dental care, regular vet visits and up to date vaccinations – you can start the year right. And if those goals are written down somewhere obvious, like the fridge or family noticeboard, there’s a good chance you’ll stick to them,” Le long says.
“Who knows, it might help with the motivation towards your own resolutions.”
Appropriate food intake
As with humans, a big pet health challenge is food consumption. While some breeds are more susceptible than others, pet obesity is a recognised issue in New Zealand and globally. An estimated 40% of dogs and 30% of cats here are at least 10% overweight.
While a tubby pup or curvy kitty can be cute, the consequences of extra weight are not. Your pet may see its life shortened by up to 25%.
Managing their intake starts with measuring how much food they get. Sticking to the ‘right’ food is important, too, so cut down on treats and stick to quality nutrition. You’ll get the information you need from food manufacturers or ask your vet. That too could be a good time to discuss any vitamin or other supplements which could benefit your pet.
Regular vet check-ups
On the subject of vets, your furry family members need check-ups at least once a year.
Consider this ‘preventative maintenance’; any illness caught early invariably leads to a better outcome and reduced suffering.
There are other benefits too, including teeth cleaning, claw clipping, updating vaccinations and the elimination of parasites, as well as being able to discuss any behavioural issues.
Committing to exercise and hygiene
Over-feeding is one side of a coin which has more exercise on the other. Good health, both mental and physical, for your pet includes regular exercise.
For dogs, nothing beats walkies with their human, while many cats love play or at least regular access to a good-sized outdoor space. Commit to doing more with your fur babies in 2021. They’ll love you for it and physical activity directly benefits their – and your – wellbeing. In fact, Harvard University cites several studies that show dog owners have lower blood pressure than non-owners.
Consider improving training at the same time; everyone loves good manners, including canine and feline ones. Plus, it gives you more bonding time with your pet.
Thorough, regular baths (for dogs) and grooming is also a valuable, if sometimes fraught, bonding experience. Resolving to make this a regular activity rather than the usual hit and miss affair is beneficial for all. With excess fur removed and the number of germs reduced, there’s less on clothes, furniture and the floor, healthy oils are better distributed from the skin to the fur, and your pet looks and smells great more of the time.
Protecting your pet
Le Long says every pet parent should consider health insurance for their dogs and cats as a core New Year’s resolution. “In the event of ill health or an accident, the last thing we want to worry about is the cost of treatment. Even routine vet visits can be costly.
“Pet health insurance is more affordable than ever, and you can cover your fur kid from as little as a dollar a day. Peace of mind is surely worth a couple of coffees per week.”
Leandri Smith – The Mail Room
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