Do you have some healthy new year’s resolutions? Do any of them include your pet? Some common resolutions that I hear from my patients are: losing weight, eating better, getting more exercise, spending more time with family. These are super things to work on with your animals too! The following are some tips to making your new year’s resolutions pet friendly.
Losing Weight and Eating Better
MOST of our animals also need to knock off a few pounds! Just like humans, we want to see a waist on our animals. Ideally we should also be able to feel their ribs. Any animal professional can give you an idea if your pet needs to shed weight, or take a look at the chart at the end of this blog to gauge where your animal is. Most of the animals I see fall in the Overweight or Obese categories! My veterinarian colleague will agree. This leaves your animal more prone to injuries as well as disease and shortened life-span. On a human note, many of the criteria for our animals will also give us a gauge of ourselves. Make sure that if you or your animal embarks on a weight loss program that you make it a LIFESTYLE: something you will be able to maintain. And consider not just focusing on weight, but rather on getting more great stuff into your body and your dog’s body too! A few tips:
1. Focus on portion size and if reducing, DO SO SLOWLY.
2. Use fruits (of course not grapes or raisins for dogs) and vegetables as snacks or treats. Try healthy snacks made with healthy real food from places like the Barkery in Stratford.
3. Limit snacks or table scraps.
4. Your animal does not need to know what ice cream or other human indulgences tastes like!
5. Make exercise an essential part of your and your pet’s weight loss plan!
Exercise is essential to health! Research says that we need not run a marathon to get in shape. Simply exercising 30 minutes daily is sufficient for increased health in humans. (Check out the video 23 ½ hours on YouTube!) Bear in mind that depending on your pet, more or less might be ideal. And remember that often our animals are inside all day long or cooped up in their stalls the whole day. They aren’t moving a lot unless with us, so they really need the exercise to stimulate their mind, body, AND spirit. And what a great way to bond with your animal; perhaps it’s them that will be getting you out of the house in the first place!
A few tips:
1. Increase activity SLOWLY, generally an increase of about 10-15% per week is a healthy pace for both humans and animals. Causing an injury by overdoing it can stop exercise entirely.
2. Make it enjoyable! This will make you both excited to get off the couch and make it easier for you to make the time in your day.
3. For dogs, try something like Fido’s Playground daycare for those days when you can’t make it for a walk or already have your workout planned elsewhere. They will be run off their paws!
4. Make sure that your animal is physically able to do the exercise. As a runner I always watch the form of the runners I see out and about. Sadly many of the dogs accompanying them, although keeping up to them, do have some movement problems that will lead to daily problems eventually. It’s like running with a pebble in your shoe, its worse over increased distance. Consider having your animal adjusted to keep them in tip top shape and treat them like the athletes they are!
5. If your animal is older and slowing down, shorter and slower bouts of exercise will help. I have seen great changes in exactly these animals with chiropractic, so much so that they are once again dragging YOU out the door!
Spending more time with your family
Our animals ARE our family! They get so much joy out of time with us as we do with them. I know that my heart rate decreases, stress level goes down, and my smile increased as soon as I get home and get a greeting and snuggle with Jasper! Jason and I both laugh more when playing with our dog and truly enjoy the bonding time. Maybe its throwing a ball, maybe training for sports, maybe it’s a trail ride, or maybe it’s an interactive toy for you and your cat… whatever it is, don’t we have these amazing animals in our life to enjoy them? It’s GREAT for your stress level to embrace the animal in your life and will being peace, joy, and simplicity back into your life. Enjoy your family time with your animal!