Make new year resolutions for your pets and help them have a happier & healthier 2020

Make new year resolutions for your pets and help them have a happier & healthier 2020

So… we made it through the Holiday stress, erratic schedules, feeding frenzies and visits with family and friends. Now what?

Many people are making resolutions and taking on weight loss goals, changing their habits to live healthier in the New Year and decade. What about the furrier members of the family?

Pets like people tend to reduce their calorie expenditure and gain weight in winter, but we’re not bears trying to put on blubber and go into hibernation (no matter how great that sounds!)

So, here are a few do-able new year’s resolutions for your pet:

FOOD CHOICES: Be sure they are on a balanced diet that is appropriate for their life stage and weight. No more than 10% of calories should come from “treats”. If your pet is obese or has medical problems or are not sure, ask your veterinarian what food/brands they recommend for your specific pet. While the begging kitties and puppies may be persuasive, food does not equal love!

ENVIRONMENTAL ENRICHMENT: Make feeding time fun and interesting. Measure the amount each pet needs including treats and split them into multiple smaller meals. You can also try putting the food in puzzles or games for them to discover throughout the day.

Cats are especially designed to eat 4-6 small meals per day and spend most of their waking time hunting for that food. Dogs that “wolf down” their food can be fed in bowl that has nubs that protrude and slow their roll. They can also be occupied for longer times with canned food or softened dry food stuffed in a feeding toy (freeze it to make it take even longer!).

PLAY: This is the best exercise. Your dog, cat and other species (rats, birds, horses) really do enjoy play and have the same neurotransmitters that make us feel elation when we play. The brief interaction without distraction with our pets for 15-20 minutes a few times a day will increase the health and well-being of both of you.

Be careful not to suddenly take the old geriatric lab running in the hills but rather take it easy and go for short walks. Likewise, do not make your obese dog or normally sedentary dog chase a ball or frisbee. This is a prescription for rupturing the ligaments in their knees! It is better to make the exercise and play interaction simple, easy to repeat so it will become part of your routine.

Dr. Lauren Smith is a veterinarian at Hart Road Animal Hospital located at 16400 SW Hart Rd, Beaverton. Contact her at 503-591-5282 or visit