8 things you should do for your pets early each year

Things you should do for your pet early each year

Early each year, we usually go on a traditional new year cleaning spree where the old makes way for the new, or we are hard at work at our new new year resolutions; but what about your pets? Here are 8 things you should do for your pets early each year.

1) Throw out their old toys and bedding

Pets have old stuff too. While going through your own old stuff, also go through theirs and make sure to get rid of those stinky blankets, hairy cave beds and chewed-up toys. Make use of the post-Christmas specials on pet accessories at your local pet shop, vet shop or local department store to replace these items.

Cat lying on blanket
Give your pets new or clean bedding.

While you’re at it, now is also a good time to start buying dental-friendly toys. Durable rubber toys and dental-friendly chews are both good for your pet’s teeth and are fashionable.

Dog chewing a rubber toy
Dental-friendly chews include commercial pet rawhide chews, digestible vegetable oil based chews (e.g. Whimzees and Denta-Delis) and quality rubber toys.

2) Give your pet more exercise

This is one of those common human new year’s resolutions too. Taking your dog with you when you go for a stroll around the block or the beach not only gets the blood flowing to muscles, but also strengthens the owner-pet relationship and actually allows for a great time.

Dog walking on the beach
Walking with your pet is a great way to exercise.

These days there are also more and more products on the market for exercising cats. There are now fancy cat exercise wheels and plenty of mouse toys out there.

Cat scratch post
Scratch posts provide hours of enjoyment, especially if a bit of catnip is added.

3) Get your pet groomed

In South Africa, and especially on the South Coast, summer peaks in February. Do your pet a favour and book a proper summer cut at your favourite doggy parlour – no matter what breed of dog you have.

Dog at parlour
A good summer cut at the beginning of the year will do wonders for your dog.

On the South Coast, a proper grooming will include a nail clip and, in some breeds, an ear pluck too.

4) Check your pet’s vaccination history

Last year might have been so hectic that you forgot to check your pet’s vaccinations. On the South Coast, dogs and cats need booster vaccinations annually. If your pet hasn’t been vaccinated in the last year, no matter what age your pet is, make sure to book an appointment at your family veterinarian early this year.

Cat at vet
If you’re on the South Coast, make sure to vaccinate your dog or cat at least once a year. Lindsey Turner (CC BY 2.0)

At Vet Hospital Port Shepstone, we also use the vaccination consultation to do a yearly medical checkup. The attending veterinarian will discuss potential problems or questions you might have and he/she will focus on preventative solutions.

5) Adapt your pet’s food

On average, one human year is the equivalent of seven to ten dog years and about six cat years. Puppies and kittens need different nutrition compared with adult and geriatric pets. For the best stage-specific nutrition as your pet ages, talk to the salesperson, receptionist or nurse at your local veterinarian or closest vet shop.

Offering food to an old cat
As our pets age, their food composition should change too.

6) Get your pet neutered or spayed

If your pet is not neutered or spayed already, this is the year to do it. Early sterilisations are recommended by veterinarians, but it is never too late. Neutering male cats and dogs will make them less inclined to roam, mark their territories or get involved in fights. Sterilised females can’t have unwanted litters are less prone to certain cancers and are unable to get commonly-occurring uterine infections.

Dog mother with puppies
Unwanted puppies and kittens can be a big burden on pets and pet owners.

Overall, spaying or neutering your pet will make him or her a better pet.

7) Spend more time with your pet

Apart from being active, spending a few more minutes or hours a day with your pet will vastly improve the pet-owner relationship and the overall happiness of your pet (and yourself). Most pets are easy, where happiness is as simple as love and attention. Walking, playing, watching TV and/or taking a nap together can all earn more brownie points with dogs and cats.

Cat on owner's lap
Cats love napping on their owners’ laps. John Atherton (CC BY-SA 2.0)

8) Update your pet’s identification info

Over the course of a year, a lot can change – owners can move home, get new phone numbers and forget to update their pet’s tags. Often pet owners only remember once the pet is lost. If any of your contact information has changed over the last 12 months, make sure to update their tags and microchip details immediately.

Cat with tag
Keep your pet’s identification tag up to date.

Summary

It is common to neglect our pets towards the end of the year, especially after a hectic year. Like with everything else, we also need to make changes and updates to the way we look after our pets.

Happy 2016

May this be a great year for you and your furry friends!

About the author
About the author
Renier is a qualified, experienced companion animal veterinarian whose main interests are animal health and strengthening pet-owner relationships.
View all posts by Dr Renier Delport

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