New Year Pet Diets
Pet New Year resolutions are a great way to start the year. Healthier eating is at the top of most human New Year Resolution lists, and it is something to think about for pets too. Around half of all dogs and cats are considered to be overweight or obese by UK vets. In most cases pets become overweight through taking in more calories than they use.
It is important to accurately record what your pet really eats in a day before considering changing their food. Treats should make up no more than 10% of the total calories your pet eats. Remember, anything your pet eats counts towards their calorie intake. This includes bits of human food, dental chews and food-stuffed toys. Making a new year resolution to avoid feeding your pet too many treats is sensible!
Before changing to a low-calorie food, check that you aren’t overfeeding your pet with the current diet. Check the feeding guidelines on the packet and WEIGH out every meal. If you are not over-feeding consult a vet or pet nutritionist about a more suitable diet.
Many ‘light’ pet foods are lower in fat and calories to assist weight loss. However, research shows that moderate fat levels with lower carbohydrate levels may be more suitable for some pets, especially cats. Never cut the feeding rate below the manufacturers recommendation. If you do, your pet will miss out on vital vitamins and minerals and may become hungry, leading to scavenging.
Pet Exercise in the New year
Weight loss is rarely achieved by diet alone. Furthermore, reducing calorie intake without increasing exercise can lead to muscle loss. Exercise is also enjoyable for you and your pet!
If your pet is very overweight, or has been on limited exercise, remember to seek a health check from your vet before making a new year resolution to increase their exercise programme. Build up the length and intensity of exercise over a period of weeks and consider adding in an extra short walk instead of making the walks longer. Add in some enrichment activities such as searching for toys and make use of natural obstacles to work the mind and the muscles.
Increasing exercise is more challenging for cats and small pets. Cats naturally exercise in small bursts throughout the day. Exercise can be stimulated using feeding toys and interactive toy-chasing games. Rabbits, guinea pigs and other small pets will also enjoy the challenge of feeding toys to encourage them to move around their environment.
New Year Health
Make a new year resolution to check that your pet has their preventative health care up to date. Cats, dogs, and rabbits should receive an annual health check and appropriate vaccinations from a vet. The annual health check is also your opportunity to discuss parasite prevention to suit your pet’s needs.
Why not make a new year resolution to learn to take care of more of your pet’s basic health care tasks such as grooming and nail clipping? All pets should get a thorough groom at least once a week. This helps to keep their skin and coat in good condition. It also allows early identification of many health problems such as new lumps or changes in weight.
New Year Pet Identification
Make January the month you check that your contact details are up to date with your microchip database! Pets can be reunited faster if they are. Microchipping is compulsory for dogs over 8 weeks of age. The breeder must do it by law. It is also highly recommended for cats.
Maybe check the collar tag too! A dog must wear a tag when out in public bearing the owner’s name and address. Choose a breakaway collar for cats to prevent injury.
New Year Pet Insurance Resolution
Pet insurance can seem like an expensive option. However, it reduces the risk of being faced with difficult decisions over treatment options when your pet is sick or injured. All dogs should be covered by third party liability insurance in case they cause an accident or injury. This is sometimes covered by home insurance. It is also available as a benefit of some charity memberships.
If you don’t insure, consider alternative ways to pay for emergency pet bills. Perhaps by using a credit card or by making a new year resolution to pay into a savings account for your pet?
Spend Quality Time with your Pet
One resolution, which will not cost you a penny, is to spend more quality time with your pets this year. Time spent walking, grooming, training, playing or just hanging out with your pets is always time well spent!