The New Year countdown is over, but another important countdown is beginning—Homestead Animal Hospital’s countdown to your pet’s best health in 2021. Read on for ideas and tips on improving and maintaining your pet’s good health today and throughout the upcoming year.

#10: Ensure your pet has new learning opportunities

Like people, pets need mental and physical work to stay healthy, so resolve to give your pet new learning opportunities this year. The possibilities are endless—you can try advanced obedience or agility competition classes, or look for training ideas at home. You can set up a safe, simple agility course in your backyard, or look online for virtual at-home classes. The stronger bond that comes from working together will be an added benefit for you and your dog.

#9: Set up regular pet weigh-ins

Set up regular weight check appointments for your dog or cat at our hospital. We will use our professional pet scales to accurately measure and record their weight, and show you how to perform a body condition score. Staying on top of any changes in your pet, especially if they have a chronic illness or need to lose weight, is important.

#8: Set aside more social time with people and other pets

All pets benefit from interaction with other people and pets. Whether you set aside more time to snuggle with your cat each day, or resolve to take your dog to doggie day care each week, you and your pet and you will reap the rewards. Learn to assess your pet’s personality and feelings by understanding their body language so you can ensure that trips to the dog park are fun rather than stressful.

#7: Enrich your pet’s home environment

You have many options for enriching your pet’s home environment, from food puzzles to climbing trees. If your pet shows separation anxiety signs, improving their surroundings and routines with their own space with soothing colors, soft music, and pheromones can help lower their anxiety. Call us for a behavior consultation, and we will create a custom plan for your pet’s individual needs.

#6: Improve your pet’s diet with nutritional supplements

Nutritional supplements can be added to your pet’s diet as a natural aid. Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids help with skin health, and glucosamine helps slow osteoarthritis. Other supplements, such as SAMe, may be indicated to address your pet’s liver problems or cognitive decline. Some prescription diets may also help your pet. Our Homestead Animal Hospital team can make specific recommendations for your pet based on their blood work, history, lifestyle, and physical exam findings.

#5: Groom your pet regularly

Regular grooming is essential for your pet’s skin and coat health. If your pet is difficult for you to bathe, take them to a groomer or use a pet wash station. Cats don’t usually require baths, but brushing and combing, especially if they have long hair, is necessary. Never clip their mats out with scissors, because you can easily cut their skin. Also, don’t overlook nail trims. We can make recommendations for your pet’s particular skin and coat challenges.

#4: Take care of your pet’s teeth with regular brushing and cleanings

Here’s one of our best suggestions for 2021—resolve to brush your pet’s teeth. Start with the goal of weekly brushing, and progress to brushing daily. Start pets when they are young with a finger brush, always using pet toothpaste and not human products. In addition, ensure your pet has regular professional dental checkups and cleanings at our hospital to preserve their teeth and gums for a lifetime of good dental health.

#3: Exercise more with your pet

Resolving to be active with your pet ranks near the top of our count-down. A hike, a walk, or a game of fetch are all great ways to get your pet moving. Cats can get in on the action with toys they can chase. Being active is a top way to ensure physical fitness, maintain ideal weight, and add years to your pet’s life.

#2: Feed your pet the correct amount of food and treats

Nutrition is the foundation for your pet’s health. Schedule an appointment with our team to discuss the best diet for your pet. We can calculate their caloric needs and the amount of food they should eat each day, including treats, which should make up no more than 10% of their daily caloric intake. Always consult trustworthy, credentialed nutritional sources to avoid problematic trends.

And our top way to better care for your pet in 2021 …

#1: Ensure your pet has regular wellness and preventive care

Topping our countdown is regular, preventive veterinary care, which we consider the most important thing you can do for your pet this year—and every year. All pets need regular wellness visits that include a thorough physical examination, blood work, urinalysis, heartworm and fecal testing, vaccinations, and parasite prevention. We will establish baseline results that we will check against at their future visits for changes that could indicate a problem. Don’t let your pet’s stress prevent them from getting needed care—we can design a custom plan that will make your pet’s veterinary visit a pleasant experience.

Contact us at Homestead Animal Hospital any time you have questions about your pet’s health, or when your pet is due for their regular wellness visit. In addition to our regular office hours, we provide after-hours veterinary support through our partnership with GuardianVets, so never hesitate to call. Make these resolutions for 2021—you and your pet will benefit.