By: | | Dogs, Cats

At we close out the year, it’s a great time to reflect on another wonderful year we’ve shared with our pets. As we learn more and more about how to best care for them – new discoveries about behavior and health are still emerging each year – we can always find new ways to improve their lives. Here are five ways you can make this your pets’ happiest, healthiest, most memorable year yet.

1. Upgrade Your Pet’s Food

While dry pet foods are popular and convenient, and cover most of your pets’ vitamin and mineral requirements, they have a few drawbacks. Many claim to support your pet’s dental health, but crunching on kibble does not actually clean your pet’s teeth any more than crispy cookies clean your own teeth. Most kibble contains starch that breaks down into sugar, which feeds the bacteria in your pet’s mouth. A kibble-based diet increases your cat’s risk for kidney disease, the most common killer of domestic cats.  

A fresh, raw diet is best, and balanced commercial options are available so you do not have to worry about preparing meals that fulfill your pets’ nutritional requirements. If you’re not able to switch to raw, it’s beneficial to supplement with fresh foods.

2. Train a New Cue Every Month

Clicker-training works with virtually anything that eats: dogs, cats, rats, horses, even zoo animals, and sea creatures. You don’t have to think up an elaborate cue to teach your pets something new each month. The tasks can be as simple as training your cat to follow a target so they can calmly step into their carrier, or accept having their nails trimmed.

Your dog should learn the essentials first: not only sit and stay, but also how to tolerate grooming and wearing a muzzle. Then, you can move on to fun tricks like fetch, nosework, and agility.

3. Schedule a Checkup

Your veterinarian will probably be sending you a postcard this year to let you know when it’s time for yearly checkups and vaccinations. You can decide whether or not it is necessary to get all of the vaccinations your veterinarian suggests. Since vaccinations can cause side effects, you may want to ask your vet about instead doing a titer test, which is a simple blood test measures your pet’s immunity to disease. Rabies is the only vaccine required by law for dogs and cats and only is required every three years.

At an annual checkup, your veterinarian can take a blood test and assess a stool sample to check for internal parasites, kidney disease, liver disease, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism and diabetes. You may want to ask your vet if your pet’s teeth may need a professional cleaning, and if your pet is at a healthy weight.

4. Be Your Pet’s Advocate

Your pets cannot speak up and let you know when a child is hugging them too tight, or when they are afraid of a stranger approaching them at the park. Pets living creatures, not toys build for entertainment or Likes and Follows. Sometimes, people will get annoyed with you when you don’t let their overbearing kid grab your dog. Sometimes, it’ll seem easier to let just anyone approach your dog than to explain that they do not want to be pet. Watch your pet’s body language. Don’t be afraid to say, “She’s shy!” or, “He doesn’t like kids!” if your pet is not enjoying an interaction.

5. Get a Professional Pet Sitter or Dog Walker

Even if you do not have any trips planned for the year just yet, it’s a good idea to start a relationship with a professional pet sitter or dog walker so you’ll know who to call when you won’t be home for an extended period of time.

Ready Pet Go provides pet sitting and dog walking services in Silver Spring, Takoma Park, and DC, with online scheduling and fully customized pet care. Contact us to get started today!