If you’ve already made your New Year’s resolutions (and even if you haven’t), it’s time to turn to the well being of your dog. It’s a new year and the perfect opportunity to establish new routines that will make 2012 your dog’s healthiest and happiest year yet.
Here are some ideas to get you started, and they’ll make your dog love you even more – if it’s possible!
- Prepare for the Unexpected. Add the numbers of a 24/7 animal poison control center and your nearest 24/7 vet hospital to your cell phone and place the numbers near your home phone. Create a pet first aid kit and place a pet rescue window alert on an outside window of your home to notify firefighters there are pets inside.
- ID Check. Make sure your dog’s ID tags and microchip records are updated if your phone number or address has changed. And if your dog is not microchipped, visit your vet or seek a local clinic to get one.
- Exercise Together. Walk your pup at least twice a day to burn off extra calories, release pent-up energy and keep your dog healthy…he or she will love you for it and it’s good for you too! See Woof Report’s past tip How to Get Fit with Your Dog’s Help for tips on exercising with your dog.
- Let the Games Begin. Engage your dog in mental exercise as well with treat dispensing and puzzle toys and a weekly game of hide-and-seek. And vow to teach your dog of any age (older dogs included) a new trick every other week or once a month. Download 101 Tricks to Teach Your Dog from the Dog Scouts for ideas and then google the name of the trick to find instructions, or pick up Kyra Sundance’s fun instructional book, 101 Dog Tricks.
- Visit the Vet. Schedule a vet visit to make sure your dog is in good health. An annual checkup is essential in maintaining your dog’s good health and preventative care.
- Spend Quality Time with Your Dog. Give your dog your undivided attention each and every day. Play with your dog or cuddle on the couch and give your pup an extended ear rub. And get to know and understand your dog’s likes and dislikes to improve and strengthen your bond.
- Create a Dog Health Record. Stop by WoofReport.com to download a free Dog Health History Form. It’s all you need to track your dog’s health and help your dog’s vet provide better care.
- Feed Your Dog Well. Take time to research your dog’s food and the other options that are available to make sure she’s getting the very best, and a diet suited to her age, weight and any medical conditions. Visit the independent websites dogfoodproject.com or dogfoodadvisor.com to see how various brands stack up, or talk to your veterinarian.
- Groom On. Commit to maintaining a good grooming schedule. Regular brushing, bathing, nail clipping and weekly teeth brushing all keep your dog healthy, comfortable and looking good.
- Try Something New. Take a class with your dog – anything from a refresher course with a trainer to maintain your dog’s good behavior to fun classes like agility and flyball offered at your local SPCA. Or maybe this is your dog’s year to help others and look into training him to become a therapy dog! Other ideas…explore a new neighborhood, plan a weekend getaway, visit a winery, try dock diving, and the list goes on. Browse the Woof Report site for more ideas.
- Help a Shelter. Not all pets are as lucky as yours, so help pets in need by donating money, goods, or your time (your dog will be happy to share you for a good cause). There are many ways to volunteer – from taking photos of shelter pets, to fostering, and posting profiles of available pets online. Begin with a minimal time commitment if it makes it easier to get started.
- Start a Pet Savings Account. Regularly put aside money in a dedicated savings account or simply in tuck it an envelope, and use it for vet care, grooming or even a new collar when your dog’s wardrobe needs a boost.
- Research Resources. This is your year to lock in good pet-sitting resources long before you schedule a trip. Take the time now to read reviews, visit facilities and meet pet sitters to find just the right fit for dog care while you’re away.
- Keep Your Dog Safe. You already know that common household items, plants, and your own medications are dangerous to dogs, so conduct a thorough check of your home to eliminate any potential hazards. Put together a pet first aid and disaster kit too – you never know when you may need it. Along the same theme, vow to restrain your dog in the car (that’s right, no more lap or shotgun rides when you drive).
- Treat Your Dog. Just for fun and to spoil your dog because you love her, bake her homemade treats for a change. Most recipes are quick and simple, and if you’re not the greatest baker, your dog is likely very forgiving! Check out Woof Report’s Feasts & Treats Tip Archives for recipes.
- Make the Fleas Flee. Maintain a regular schedule of heartworm and flea and tick preventives. Choose and regularly administer an EPA-approved spot-on treatment, chewable pills, shampoos, rinses or other treatments, and administer heartworm preventatives year-round.
- Clean the Pup Stuff. Round up all of your dog’s toys and give them a good washing (see Woof Report’s past tip on cleaning your dog’s toys), and launder all your dog’s bedding. Then make a plan to keep up the clean – for instance, wash your dog’s toys the first of each month and your dog’s bedding every other time you wash your sheets.
- Read the Woof Report. Keep reading Woof Report to learn how to best care for your dog, and sign up for Woof Report Weekly Email newsletters (starting up again soon)so you don’t miss a tip! Please share Woof with others with dogs too.
Happy New Year!
Thank you to Velvet Elvii on flickr for the photo of Watson.
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