COLUMN: New Year's resolutions for pets and their owners

Pets provide us with so much affection and unconditional love that we should find ways to improve our relationships with them in the coming year. At the top of almost everyone’s resolution list is to find ways to save money. Pet owners can keep veterinary costs low by following a few simple guidelines in the New Year.

Keep pets up to date on important vaccinations and parasite prevention. It is much less expensive to prevent a disease than it is to treat it. The two most common diseases in dogs and cats are gingivitis or gum disease and obesity. Both can be prevented with home dental care, such as brushing with C.E.T. enzymatic tooth paste daily. Proper diet and feeding habits help with preventing obesity.

Don’t procrastinate and miss veterinary exams and visits. If your pet is injured or ill, delaying veterinary attention could actually lead to higher expenses!

Resolve to keep good communications with your veterinarian and veterinary staff. Keep your veterinarian up to date on pet health and behavioral changes.

Consider investing in pet insurance or starting a pet health savings plan as the New Year begins. These simple steps can help you avoid financial issues if your pet is sick or even avoid an “economic euthanasia.” There are numerous pet insurance providers. One company I think is pretty good is Trupanion. Visit www.trupanion.com for more information.

Next on many resolution lists is the promise to exercise more and lose weight.

Like their humans, many pets in the U.S. are overweight or obese. The New Year is a great time to make the commitment to losing those extra pounds.

Studies show that dog owners spend as much as twice the time walking each week than non-dog owners. This positive reinforcement can be beneficial for your goals and help your pet lose weight, too.

Some people will make resolutions to spend more quality time with family. That resolution should be expanded to include our pets as well.

There is an old adage that “a tired dog is a good dog.” Including a small amount of time in our daily routine for our pets can help prevent destructive behavioral issues.

Many pets could benefit from enrolling in a basic training class, especially if you have a new puppy. Consider this New Year as a great time to make sure your pet is a “good pet citizen.”

Looking our best is another popular resolution each year. Why not include your pets?

Proper grooming and brushing is a way to meet your resolution of spending more time with your pet. If you have not heard of the Furminator Brush, you need to discover it. This amazing brush really helps with excessive shedding. Go to www.furminator.com.

Helping others is a promise that people make each New Year. Keep that promise by volunteering your time or providing needed help at your local animal shelter or rescue group. The Farmington Regional Animal Shelter has been open for just more than one year and is very much in need of volunteer help on an ongoing basis to make it run smoothly and successfully. Go to www.fmtn.org/animalservices.

Another great resolution for all pet owners is to promise to discuss all aspects of your pets care with your veterinarian before acting on information found online. Even though Internet searches and discussions with online friends might seem to be helpful, there is a lot of misinformation present on the web.

Avoid using “Dr. Google” as your only source of pet health recommendations. Your veterinarian is the true pet health expert and will be happy to answer your questions and concerns.

Lastly, I want to sincerely thank all of you for reading the “Pets and Their People” column this past year. And thank you, Daily Times for giving me this venue for client education.

Dr. Darren Woodson has practiced veterinary medicine in the Farmington area for more than 28 years and has a passion for educating pet owners. If you have a question you would like him to address, email dwoodson@valleyvetpet.com. Please understand Dr. Woodson will choose the questions that are most relevant to our readers.