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New Years Resolutions for You and Your Pet

Happy New Year and welcome 2016. All of us at Siena Animal Hospital hope this year is as good as or better than the last. This is the time of year we make our resolutions to improve our lives. So why not make a resolution to improve your pet's life, too? In fact, many of the things that make our pets' lives better make our lives better, too. Here are some suggestions:

1. Play with your pet: It is proven that simply spending time interacting with your pet, whether it's a dog, cat, bird, or pocket pet, will calm stress, lower blood pressure, and add enjoyment to our lives. So if you need a nice easy one that your critter will love, too, set aside 15 minutes a day to simply de-stress and play with your family pet. He or she will respond in kind, and your bond will grow immensely.

2. Take your dog for a walk: Although this sounds like an extrapolation of #1, it is a bit more involved and it takes more training. But the benefits for both of you are greater as well. Start with 10 to 15 minutes a day and work your way up in time and distance. Explore your neighborhood, parks, and maybe even get to know your neighbors and fellow dog-walkers. Work up to hiking with your dog once you are both in better shape.

3. Eat healthier: This is the number one resolution people make. And given that over 50% of our canine and feline friends are overweight, this resolution could benefit all of us. Not only will our pets live longer with a better diet and losing a few pounds, it will also cause a better quality of life with less joint problems, breathing issues, and skin fold infections (to name a few). Feed a high-quality food and limit the amount to a healthy amount twice a day. A small dog might eat no more than 1/4 cup each meal; a large dog rarely needs more than 1 to 1 and 1/2 cup each meal.

4. Change treats: Milk Bones and many other commercial treats are very high in calories. So are the leftover ice cream, meat trimmings, and other human foods your pet loves. Instead, try offering veggies and small pieces of fruits for treats. Your pet will probably love them, and they are still getting the interaction with you giving them "something" aside from their normal food.

5. Dental Home-Care: For those who are really gung-ho on a New Year's Pet Resolution, adopt a daily Dental Home-Care routine. At a minimum, give your pet a healthy, digestible chew-treat (CET chews, Veggie Chews, Purina Dental Chews, Greenies) once a day. If you are even more interested in helping his or her teeth, try water additives and oral rinses. Be sure to use dog and cat-safe products. For "super pet-owners", brushing your pet's teeth with a pet-friendly enzymatic toothpaste once a day is the best way to keep his or her teeth their healthiest. However, once you see brown calculus forming on the teeth, the teeth will need to be professionally scaled and polished by your veterinarian. Siena Animal Hospital offers FREE dental exams for all dogs and cats if you suspect dental disease in your pet.

6. New Tricks: Teach your dog something new and exciting to show off to your friends. Start with basics such as Sit, Down, Stay. Then work on Down to Sit....a harder one. Stand is a challenge. And then fun tricks such as Shake, Roll-Over, Sit Pretty, and so forth. Spend 5-10 minutes a day and use lots of pet-healthy treats and praise. You will be amazed with the fun things he or she can learn.

So we all hope you enjoy 2016. Stick to your resolutions for both you and your pets, and enjoy the benefits for many years to come.