10 Promises to Make to Your Pet in 2012
Having a pet brings a lot of joy, love and laughter to our lives. But making a commitment to a pet is much like making a commitment to a human being: both relationships require daily care and nurturing in order to flourish. So, as we pet parents embark on this new commitment, or continue a long-standing relationship, here are 10 promises to consider making to your pet for the new year:
- I promise to feed my pet well. Just like any human’s self-improvement promise, where would any “pet-improvement” promise be if it didn’t include something to do with a healthy diet? Some of the most critical decisions a pet owner can make about her pet’s health relate to nutrition. From daily kibble to treats and chews, what you feed Fluffy affects his teeth, joints, coat and overall good health. Promise your pets you’ll do a little more research when selecting what you feed them. Discuss your pet’s nutritional needs with your veterinarian and select a pet food based not only on price, but on palatability, digestibility, and suitability for your pet’s breed, lifestyle and medical conditions.
- I promise to disguise exercise as playtime. Exercise doesn’t have to involve boring repetition at a gym—and most gyms don’t allow pets anyway! From your pet’s point of view, going for a walk, dropping everything for a game of Frisbee or hide and seek, a bit of stair climbing or a good game of chase constitutes fun, not exercise. And it’s not just our pets who benefit from exercise and fresh air – these benefits extend to us in activities we may not seek out on our own.
- I promise to include my pet in my budget. Today’s pets play an integral part in the lives of their loving owners and are often considered members of the family. Be sure to budget properly for your pet’s daily, health and veterinary care needs. To uncover new ways to save on the products and services you need to take great care of your pets without compromising their wellness care, consider picking up a copy of my new book with co-author Jeff Barnes, Pampered Pets on a Budget: Caring for your pet without losing your tail, available in print at Lulu.com and in Kindle version at Amazon.com.
- I promise to schedule annual wellness visits with my pet’s veterinarian. Remember the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?” Well, it applies to pets, too. Don’t skip annual wellness visits for pets. Your pet should see the veterinarian at least once a year for exams and routine lab work (blood, urine, fecal, etc.) that can keep your pet healthy. These exams can catch health crises early on, saving you time and money and saving your pet from unwanted stress. This includes heartworm preventative treatment, flea and tick control, and a thorough check-up of your pet’s gums, teeth, heart, lungs and internal organs. It’s much more expensive—and risky—to treat illnesses than to protect against them.
- I promise to plan for the unexpected. It’s important to consider both the expected and unexpected costs your pet might cause your family to incur and determine if you might need pet insurance or a pet “savings plan.” Before you purchase pet insurance, ask your vet to help you figure out the low-, mid- and high-end bills you may encounter. Then shop around, look at the fine print and do the math when considering pet insurance policies. If you decide against purchasing a pet health insurance policy, start a pet health savings fund by setting aside $10-$25 per month to cover unexpected veterinary costs.
- I promise to log a little BFF time. All your four-footed best friend requires is a bit of your time—snuggle time, playtime, nap time—any time! You got it, and your pet wants it! The bond that forms between animals and humans during their time together has extensive and proven psychological and physiological outcomes for both. Pets and their people benefit from the time they spend together in exercise, companionship, security, and relaxation.
- I promise to keep pets looking good. Whether it’s a good at-home brushing or a full-blown spa treatment, grooming keeps your pet looking great and can even be an asset to his health and happiness. A grooming session is much more than a bath and a haircut; it can be a form of check-up. While grooming your pet, you have an opportunity to get to know what’s normal in regards to his body, coat and skin. And don’t forget to complete your pet’s good grooming habits with a collar containing up-to-date identification.
- I promise to keep pets safe while driving. Driver distraction is often the cause of auto accidents and unrestrained pets in your vehicle can easily become a distraction. One in three pet parents admits to being distracted by a pet while driving, according to a study conducted by Kurgo and AAA last year. Pets are at just as much risk of injury while driving unbuckled in an automobile as anyone else, so why wouldn’t you promise to buckle up your pet? A variety of reasonably priced pet restraint products are available to keep pets safe and help owners reduce potential distractions. Dog car harnesses act like comfy seat belts, allowing your dog to lie down or sit up. Some pet auto restraints even allow your dog to move safely from side to side in the backseat or cargo area. Small pets such as cats and dogs less than 20 pounds are generally safest riding in a carrier that can be buckled into the back seat. Pets should never ride in the front passenger seat, especially if the auto has an airbag system.
- I promise to become an advocate for pet adoption. While promising to become an advocate for pet adoption may not directly affect your own pet, it may very well affect your future pets. Pet overpopulation is a significant problem in the U.S. and, while there has been an increase in the number of pets adopted from shelters and rescues, approximately four million adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized each year simply because of overpopulation. Few experiences in life are more satisfying and rewarding than saving an animal's life and making him a valued member of the family. Encourage friends and family to check out shelters and rescues before choosing their next four-legged addition to the family.
- I promise to become a volunteer. You and your pet can make a difference in someone’s life! Pet therapy programs at hospitals, rehabilitation and care facilities provide children and the elderly with joy and healing. If your pet isn’t quite up to the task or is too young to volunteer, shelters across the country are in desperate need of human volunteers to help with everything from walking dogs and organizing fundraising events to fostering abused or frightened animals. Volunteering is a great way to make a difference in the lives of many animals and, inadvertently, the lives of many people.
Here’s wishing you and your pet a very happy, healthy 2012!