New Year’s Resolutions

The new year is upon us, and as we make our resolutions and goals for life-style changes, it is important to include our furry friends in mix. Below is a list of “pawsitive” resolutions we hope you will consider for 2017.

Visit the vet. Start your pet’s new year by making an appointment for a full physical, complete with blood work to check organ function, parasite screening and annual vaccinations. Semi-annual bordetella vaccinations and parasite screenings are required by many boarding kennels and doggie daycare facilities so making sure your pet is up to date now can be helpful later. Your veterinarian can also advise you on appropriate parasite protection for your pet and make recommendations on non-core vaccinations and medications, based on your pet’s lifestyle. Be sure and get copies of all your pets’ vaccinations and medications to keep on hand, or update and access your records online, if your vet’s office offers that service.

Check your pet’s microchip information. Pet safety is always a priority. Check to see that the contact information associated with your pet’s microchip is accurate. This information can be updated online with various registries, or with your local animal control organization. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department even offers free microchip registration on their website. Make sure your pet also wears a secure collar at all times, with their Rabies tab and name tag with contact information firmly attached, at all times.

Help your pet be more active! Current data suggests that over 80% of pets are overweight and do not get enough exercise. Consult your veterinarian for specific exercise guidelines for your pet, but remember that nearly every dog will benefit from a brisk walk and a good game of laser tag can do wonders for a chubby kitty. Start an exercise program slow with an out-of-shape pet and invest in a well-fitting, secure collar or harness and a non-retractable leash. Diet is important too! Set up a consultation with your veterinarian to discuss dietary suggestions, particularly if your pet has special dietary needs or food sensitivities.

Reconnect with your pet. Many of us get so busy that we often forget how much our pets enjoy our company. Find ways to include your pet in your day-to-day activities. Many restaurants and breweries allow dogs to join you for a night out on their patio. Or find an agility class or special training course to that you can enroll in with your pet. Once your pet has been certified, you can both visit hospitals, hospices or retirement facilities. There are also local opportunities for tracking classes, scent classes and herding groups for those busy, working breeds! Most importantly, spend time daily grooming and brushing your pet – it is good for both of you!

Pet-proof your house. Get down on your hands and knees and look for pet hazards at their eye level. Frayed electrical cords, chewed-up old toys, and bones can all be choking hazards. Be aware of toxic or poisonous houseplants, as well as human medications that can be easily accessed and consumed. Check the outside too; search for any open areas in fencing, or nails protruding from decks and fences. Make sure petroleum products, solvents, and yard chemicals are stored out of your pet’s reach.

Consider pet insurance. Many companies offer pet insurance policies at very affordable premiums. Most of these policies offer substantial medical coverage, which can offer peace of mind if there is an emergency expense for your pet. Your veterinarian’s office can answer most general questions, but for further details regarding coverage search online or contact an agent directly.

The veterinarians and staff at Lakecross Veterinary wish you and yours a safe, happy and healthy 2017.

Originally published January 2017 in the Lake Norman Citizen.

Dr. Kay Wahl is a veterinarian with LakeCross Veterinary in Huntersville. The vets in the big yellow house have been treating pets like family for 20 years. For more information, call 704-948-6300.