10 New Year’s Resolutions for Pets11 min read
10 NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS FOR PETS
Everyone loves to make new year’s resolutions and to break new year’s resolutions around the second of January. People then wonder why they go to all the effort to make them in the first place. After all the wining and dining during the holiday season people gain weight. It is no surprise that losing weight tops the agenda on new year’s resolutions. A new year is seen as a new start and this concept provides endless marketing for diets and gym equipment that usually ends up in the basement around the first of February.
Dogs and cats cannot make resolutions. They are like perpetual toddlers that need to be taken care of and protected from injuries and diseases. I figured that if people can make and break resolutions for themselves let’s see what we can dream up for our furry companion friends. These are not in any particular order but let’s hope these 10 new year’s resolutions for pets are not broken but taken to heart.
BUILD A PROTECTIVE FENCE TO KEEP PETS SAFE
The majority of car accidents occur because animals are allowed to roam the neighborhood and not taken outdoors on a leash. As I have seen multiple times, all it takes is ONE SECOND for a pet to escape and get hit and killed instantly by a passing car. What is even worse is when mating season hits in late February and March. Spring is in the air and so are females in heat. Both intact male and female dogs and cats want to go outdoors to mate. It is a known fact that most car accidents are seen in young, un-neutered male dogs and cats. They are out catching the scent of the female left as pheromonesThese are sensitive compounds that indirectly are secreted by mammals to attract the opposite sex; be it a dog, cat or human. These are powerful components in animals that are often deposited in the animal"s urine. This attracts the male to her when in estrous. Pheromones are very, very subtle yet hypnotic. Dogs and cats, outside of the Chinese Crested dog, cannot sweat. They do not have sweat glands on the skin like humans. This is why pheromones end up being secreted in urine versus skin secretions in humans. in her urine. In the process, they are oblivious to passing cars and trucks.
The best way to secure a dog is by taking it outside on a leash or a fenced in back yard. Fencing can be made of many commonly found items. Wood, metal, chain link and a living fence also known as a hedge. One of the best safeguarding mechanisms is Invisible Fence. I was very satisfied with it when it was installed in my Ohio home. There is a training period but if you work at it, it is very useful.
If you employ gates to get to other parts of the yard, MAKE SURE, that it is locked or at least put a 1/8 inch aluminum bar through the hole right below the latch. Dogs are geniuses when it comes to flipping the lever with their front forelimbs.
The big problem with cats is that they can climb anything. Mt. Everest? No problem. Freedom Tower in NYC? No problem. A cat laughs when the animal sees fencing going up. The only safe way to protect a cat is by keeping it indoors. NO ifs or buts. I have heard cats attached to a clothes line via a harness but that is bad news. It can’t escape another predator cat or dog. It is basically TIED UP! People have tried tying up a cat like a dog. Doesn’t work. Cats are not dogs. Cats hate anything attached to them. If they hate the leash, they will flip around and can easily hang themselves. Plus cats love to jump. If your cat does not have a “break away” collar it can easily hang itself on a branch while jumping.
SENIOR BLOOD WORK
Dogs and cats age differently than humans. It is not exactly 7 years being equal to one human year but the main point is that animal blood work gets outdated very quickly. A year’s difference in human blood work can be subtle but for a dog or cat huge changes can occur since they age much faster. Clients would always tell me that their pet’s blood work was current because “it was just done a year ago”. Sorry, but that data is old.
The average dog is considered senior when he or she is about 9 or so. Lesser for the giant breeds and more than that for the toy breeds like Chihuahuas. All dogs should have an annual CBC, Chemistry profile plus tests to rule out hypothyroidism. This is very common in older animals. A urinalysis should be performed at the same time. All waste products are broken down in the liver and eventually secreted in the urine. A lot can be picked up on a dip stick and microscope.
Cats are considered seniors around 9-10 years of age. ALL cats 10 and over should have an annual CBC and Chemistry profile plus tests to rule out hyperthyroidism, a debilitating disease seen in older cats. Even if the cat’s thyroid levels are normal one year, repeat ANNUALLY!
ADOPT A PET
Some of the best animals on earth can be found at animal shelters, humane societies and from advertisements on the internet. Find a place in your heart and give those animals a chance. Adopting a pet also occurs even without you thinking you were looking for a dog or cat. People find abandoned pets in: alleys, supermarket parking lots plus running around school yards. Yep! Guess who is going home today! Cats make you think that you picked them out but in reality it is the other way around.
PET WEIGHT LOSS PROGRAM
As dogs and cats age they often put on weight like their human masters. Fact is that the majority of pets are neutered and that promotes lethargy since oodles of calories aren’t being burned by reproduction. That sedentary lifestyle packs on the pounds. A one pound weight gain for a Chihuahua is a lot! For a much larger person, not so much. I used to keep a brick in one of my exam rooms and gave it to clients telling them this is what those extra pounds on your dog feel like in your hands! I got my point across rapidly. Those fat cells need nourishing like any other cell. This leads to cardiovascular disease, fatty liver and other endocrine diseases such as Diabetes mellitus.
Most veterinarians offer weight loss solutions. These include things such as portion control and changing to a special diet such as Hills® Prescription R/D canine or feline. Along with a diet change, veterinarians recommend an increase in the frequency of walks for dogs. Avoid giving table scraps and dog or human junk food to your pets. Remember, to maintain body weight, calories in have to equal calories out. There is no hedging or fudging that fact.
DONATE YOUR TIME TO ANIMAL CAUSES
There are many ways to donate your time. Local humane societies can use your help as a foster home for dogs and cats. Walking animals at a shelter often takes a lot of the load off of the regular staff. Washing cars to earn money for a new shelter program is also a rewarding endeavor. Help veterinarians at your local rabies vaccination clinics filling out vaccination records and the like.
DONATE FINANCIALLY TO ANIMAL CAUSES
Donating your resources to animal causes helps to defray the high costs of running animal welfare groups and societies. Donations can of the cash kind or donations of pet supplies and other items such as Chlorox®, paper towels, cat litter and various types of pet food. Before you donate any money to any animal cause check their financial statements and make sure that at least 70%-80% of funds ACTUALLY go to the animals and not administration and salaries.
DEVELOP A FIRE SAFETY PROGRAM FOR YOUR HOME
Humankind has always had a love hate relationship with fire going back tens of thousands of years. Early humans learned to cook their food with it yet at the same time fire burned down their homes. Nothing has changed. That love hate relationship continues today. Prepare a safety plan and make sure each person is responsible for one particular pet. The smell of smoke brings out a primordial sense of fear in not only humans but dogs and cats. When animals panic, they head to the areas of the home where they are used to chilling out. That favorite couch or sofa is where you will find them. Pet Fire Safety is difficult to plan for and execute but it can and will save lives.
NEUTER YOUR PET
Each year thousands of unwanted puppies and kittens are born. If you think the human population worldwide is out of control wait until you see how things work with animals. Dogs and cats sexually mature at about 6 months of age. Technically, they can have litters at 8-9 months of age. The gestation period for dogs and cats is about 60 days. Those progeny can themselves sexually mature 6 months later and do the same. Cats can easily have 3-4 litters per year with an average of 4-5 kittens per litter. Cats are like chickens. They need about 11-12 hours of sunlight to go into estrous . This means cats are fertile from March through October! I am sure you can all do the math.
Neutering your pet also prevents diseases in both male and female animals. Males won’t have enlarged prostate issues and females will be spared the trauma of developing: breast cancer, false pregnancies, pyometra and other gynecological issues.
GET UP TO DATE ON BASIC VACCINATION BOOSTERS
Veterinarians, including myself, have always preached this to the choir. The minute that a population of _______ (blank) is not vaccinated against X disease, the disease will rear its ugly head in a nanosecond. Viruses and bacteria cause tremendous amounts of suffering in unvaccinated, challenged animals. In reality, it is the things you can’t see that will kill you. Think the Black Plaque that wiped out almost all of Europe in the 13th and 14th century. If only they knew that a small bacteria, Yersinia pestis, that lived in rodents and transmitted by fleas would destroy their lives. All of these organisms are microscopic. They can only be seen in a high powered microscope.
All puppies and kittens should go through a complete vaccination series and boostered annually. As dogs age, a vaccination protocol can be tailored to the individual animal. An animal that is immuno-suppressed may not respond at all to basic vaccinations. In those cases, doing vaccine titers plus rabies titers may be the way to go.
TREASURE YOUR TIME WITH YOUR PETS
Life really is too short. The sad thing when owning a pet is that an animal can go from being a cuddly puppy to a senior citizen in too short a period. The life span of our companion animals is way too short. Pets provide so much unconditional love. Take care of them and they will take care of you.
I want to wish all of my readers a healthy, happy and prosperous 2016 for themselves and their families in the year ahead.