It's that time again. It's time to make your resolutions for the New Year. Most people want to get in better shape, clean or organize their home and/or improve some other aspect of their life. But, have you ever thought of what you can do for your pet(s)?
Improving your health can and should include walking your dog(s) and/or running together. Cleaning a home should always be done with pet friendly products because what's good for pets is good for babies and other children. What else can you do for your furry, feathered or scaly member(s) of the family? Below are several suggestions:
- Clean cages, terrariums, and aquariums more often. Terrariums and aquariums should be cleaned and the aquarium filter(s) changed at least once per month. Cage cleaning depends on the type of animal(s) in them. Bird cages need cleaned every day if possible. Rabbits, ferrets and so forth need a clean cage at least every two days.
- Feed your pets only what they need. Many pets are overweight and may even need to go on a special diet. Also, a majority of fish are fed too much and the extra food ends up on the bottom of the tank and/or in the filter.
- For overweight pets, check with your veterinarian about how much to feed them and/or if you need to change the type of food. Remember that edible treats should be reduced, too. Give them toys, kisses, petting and/or praise instead. Don't forget to increase their activity as well.
- Cats, dogs, rabbits and more need fresh water every day! If they do not have access to flowing water, you need to empty the water bowl(s) and rinse or wash it out and then refill it. Do not just "top it off." A water bottle for an animal cage should be checked on a daily basis and probably rinsed and refilled once per week.
Tiki, a Siberian husky, plays in the snow (AP Photo/Alex Brandon).
- Urban dwelling dogs need to walk, run and/or play fetch. Even if you have a large yard, take them out where they can play at least once a week. If you have a small yard or none at all, take them walking every day or better yet, twice a day.
- Give individual attention to your dog(s) as often as possible. Brush their coat and check their feet on a weekly basis. If they spend time outdoors, check them for ticks and burrs while you're at it.
- Train them to "heel", start and stop while walking. Even a medium size dog, such as a spaniel, can run too fast and/or pull on a leash with a lot of force.
- If you are taking your dog(s) with you to the grocery store, do NOT leave your car windows up! Thousands, if not millions, of pets die every year from heat exhaustion. Even in the winter time, you should leave a small opening so that they can get fresh air and smell everything around them. Don't even take them if it's raining or snowing.
- Dogs are pack animals. If you only have one and you must leave him or her alone for eight hours or more, she or he may get lonely or have seperation anxiety. Avoid this by having someone check on the dog two or three times a day or by taking him or her to a doggie day care OR by adopting another dog or cat. If that last one sounds feasible, ask someone at a pet store, at a shelter or at a veterinary office what type and/or size of pet to add.
- Scoop out a cat's litter box at least every two days - every day is better. Approximately once a month, dump the litter in the trash, wash and dry the box and then refill it with fresh litter.
- If you use clay based litter, try to switch the cat(s) to pine shavings or recycled newspaper. Not only is it better for the environment, but it will help your feline(s) as well. Switching can be done gradually as described on the sack OR you may try buying a new box, filling it with the new litter and see if Kitty will use it right away.
- Brush your cat(s) often, at least weekly. This cuts down on shedding and hairballs. Trim the front claws and check their pads as well.
- If you have outdoor cats, check the fur and ears for ticks, burrs and stick-tights at least once per week. Make sure they are neutered or spayed and have up to date shots. Use a collar with your phone number(s) on it for each pet in case they get lost.
- Handle a snake, lizard or tortoise often. The more you play with or pet one of these creatures, the better your relationship will be.
- Don't tap on the glass! The noise is louder in a terrarium and even worse in an aquarium. If you don't believe that, try putting your ears under water in a tub and then tap the outside of the tub, or have someone else do it. Now, imagine that noise occurring 10, 20 or more times per day.
- Do NOT leave turtles or a fish tank in direct sunlight for more than 15 - 20 minutes. Decrease that time if it's also hot in that area. These tender creatures will literally be cooked.
- Brush, curry comb and/or rub down a horse after every ride or other sweaty activity. If they have long winter coats, check for any foreign substances.
- Be sure to set the saddle on its rear and hang the saddle blanket so that they will dry. Keep the other tack is in good working order
- Take proper care of the hooves. If shod, check the shoes to make sure they're on correctly. File the hooves and re-shoe them when needed. Clean the inside and make sure that the "frog" is not injured or infected.
- Make sure that each horse has access to water that's clean and not frozen.
- "Muck out" stalls and put in fresh straw when needed.
- If your horse is being boarded, go see him or her as often as possible. Give her or him as much attention as you would at home by brushing, patting and/or riding.
If you're feeling overwhelmed by all this, just decide on one or two resolutions to implement right away. Take the change(s) one small step at a time. Then, as you feel able, add one or two more habits. After all, a stressed owner/guardian often makes the pet(s) feel stressed, too.