To say 2016 was a mountain of a year is an understatement. For many of us, it felt like we were plummeting down a black diamond slope with one ski pole, locked in bindings, bound for destruction.
But the good news is 2017 is upon us and thus a new beginning. We have the decision to transform bad habits to good and cast procrastination to the side for productivity. As we begin the New Year with renewed vigor, don’t forget to include your pet in your plan for success.
For those striving for a more active lifestyle, consider including your pet. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 53.8 percent of dogs and 58.2 percent of cats are estimated to be overweight or obese. Imagine what a few more minutes strolling the block or playing tag could do for your dog.
Cats can be a tad bit more challenging to exercise but trust me, it can be done. The goal is to figure out what excites your cat. If they’re food-motivated, try grabbing a little bit of food out of their bowl and have them chase each treat as you slide it across the floor. If they prefer to chase or are “prey driven”, try running with a feather cat toy or shoelace (cheaper) around the house to get them moving. You may need to wiggle the feather or laces to keep them interested. I get quite the arm workout when I do this with my cat because she’s only interested as long as the object is sporadically moving.
If healthy eating is on your “to-do list," put your pets on the list also. Many of us feel better when we indulge with our pets, if not to reduce our own calories. I admit, I have been guilty of splitting a medium fry and hamburger (sans onions) a time or two.
If you must share, split an apple or a little grilled chicken instead of a chili cheese coney. This goes for cats and mini pigs too, which are at an increased risk of being overweight. When feeding, consider following the size and dietary guidelines generally found on the back of the feed bag. A good rule of thumb for your pet is to feed based on the size they should be according to breed standard.
If you want to read more but are lacking a little motivation, read to your pet. I guarantee they’ll be interested or at least make the experience more entertaining. If you want to get out of the house but don’t have a buddy, take your pet.
Many cats and dogs love a good road trip and there are medications to prevent car sickness if that’s an issue. Animals can be incorporated into many facets of your life and activities with a little bit of planning and an open mind.
With 2016 behind us, we can only go up from here. Wishing you and yours, growth, prosperity, and success for this Happy New Year!
Veterinarian Dr. Jasmine Streeter’s column appears in The Skanner the first Thursday of every month. Send your pet care questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.