New Year resolutions for pets

Pet ownership is the most satisfying of experiences. We see reports fairly routinely that suggest having a dog or cat for a companion helps us live longer. Lesser stress-related and heart illnesses are reported for pet owners than for non-pet owners. One benefit I can vouch for is that growing up with a pet helps children develop a sense of responsibility and compassion, and above all, it is important to all-round personality development.

As benefits of living with pets are immense, every individual should have the right to enjoy the right to pet ownership. But with every right come duties. It has to be the duty of every pet owner to provide the absolute best care possible for a family or individual that adopts a pet. Pet care, just like human healthcare, is focused on multiple lifestyle and life stage-based recommendations. It is essential to realize the importance of what may be the best nutrition, parasite prevention program, dental care, and exercise options for your individual pet. If pets share a house with other pets of the same or different species, these recommendations may change.

As I have noticed with my own pets, it can be difficult to keep up with life stage-based requirements for pets because of how quickly they age. My family dog is an 8-year-old Himalayan Sheepdog and now qualifies as a “senior”. It seems like yesterday when he was still a little pup. My younger Pug-Chihuahua mix (Chug if you will!) appears to be aging faster than expected with every passing year. I can fully understand other fellow pet owners not realizing all the changes going through their pets body early enough in order to provide the best care possible.

So while we may have finished making resolutions for 2014 for ourselves, now would be a good time to make some resolutions for our pets. Dental tartar, gingivitis, and oral infections are more common than pet owners realize. Also, obesity in Canadian pets is common and avoidable with the right exercise schedule and nutrition. Middle-aged to older dogs and cats tend to have arthritis more commonly than we realize and a simple intervention such as keeping them warm at home, or adding the correct glucosamine supplement, can make a difference for older pets. Keep in mind that pets do not benefit as much from human glucosamine products as they do from supplements specifically designed for their needs.

Cats are not little dogs; they have different nutritional, social, and grooming needs. In survey after survey, cats are also reported to have less than adequate care when it comes to annual evaluations. While it is common knowledge that dogs need annual check-ups, somehow this need is ignored when it comes to cats. Major illnesses that may affect long-term quality of life for a pet can be diagnosed through timely checkups with a veterinarian. If you haven’t taken your pet in for a checkup for more than a year, resolve to do so this year. And the sooner the better!

By – Dr. Jangi Bajwa,
Veterinarian – Hastings Veterinary Hospital, Burnaby.