So, how many people made a New Year's resolution or a list of resolutions?
Well, maybe you should think about making a New Year's pet resolution list. It's not too late. Think about it and do it now.
So, what kinds of things should go on that list? Well, it depends on your type of pet. Let's look at a few.
• Trim nails and beaks more often.
• Clean cage more often
• Change water at least once daily.
• Wash feed and water bowls daily.
• Buy and or make a new toy weekly.
• Play/interact with bird daily.
• Monthly, completely break down entire cage and completely sanitize.
• Make an annual appointment with an avian veterinarian.
• Add/switch up foods weekly
• Feed more fresh foods
• Read one new article about birds weekly.
• Feed daily
• Test water weekly
• Keep tank filled
• Switch up/add food variety weekly
• Read one new article about fish weekly
• Clean tank monthly
• Check/clean filters weekly
(Hamsters, gerbils, mice/rats, guinea pigs, rabbits, ferrets, etc. (While there are some differences in each of these, there are many similarities, too.)
• Buy/make one new toy per week
• Clean cage weekly
• Completely break down and sanitize cage monthly
• If using litter box, change/scoop daily
• Add more fresh food weekly (If your pet is not accustomed to fresh food, start in very small quantities, gradually increasing. Check which foods are safe for your particular pet.)
• Read one new article regarding your type of pet weekly
• Play/interact with your pet daily
• Check your pet's teeth weekly, visit veterinarian for teeth trimming, if needed
• Change up your pet's cage weekly (certain pets will not like their environments changed, so know your particular pet, or watch its reaction.)
• Feed hay daily, if appropriate for your type of pet
• Scoop litter box daily
• Sanitize litter box weekly
• Check your cat's teeth, nails and ears weekly and care for appropriately
• Brush and comb your cat weekly, at a minimum
• Check your cat's weight and adjust food as needed
• Check your cats food (Read the label — Is it a good, quality food? If not, change it.)
• Play with your cat daily (preferably several times per day.)
• Make/buy your cat a new toy weekly (and play with it with your cat)
• Make an annual veterinarian appointment for your cat
• Read one new article about cats weekly
• Check your dog's weight and adjust food as necessary
• Check your dog's nails weekly and trim as needed
• Check your dog's ears weekly — more for certain breeds — clean as needed
• Check your dog's teeth, schedule a cleaning if needed (Remember, February is national pet dental month and most veterinarians offer discounts, but schedule early, because they often fill up fast.)
• Make your dog's annual veterinarian appointment
• Check your dog's food, read the label and make sure it is a good quality food; change if needed.
• Play with your dog several times per day every day
• Add one more 15-minute walk to your current routine
• Teach your dog one new trick per month
• Read one new article on dogs per week
• Read one article on your dog's breed per month. If a mixed breed, pick a prominent breed in your dog's heritage
• Take your dog out for the day one day per month; for older dogs, it may not be an entire day. (Try something like a beach walk, boardwalk walk, hike in woods, etc.)
• Check your dog's treats — Are they quality, healthy and nutritious? If not, get rid of them and replace with quality treats.
• If needed, sign up for dog training classes
• Consider trying a new activity with your dog, such as obedience, agility, scent work, confirmation, dock diving, etc.
• Consider joining a dog club, such as the Mispillion Kennel Club in Georgetown or Salisbury Kennel Club in Salisbury, Md.
• Consider training your dog to be a therapy dog and visiting at rehabilitation centers, veterans' centers, schools, etc.
• Brush/comb your pet daily (heavy grooming weekly)
• Bathe your dog bi-monthly (some more often/some a little less, but this is a good average)
To help with checking the quality of your food, www.dogfoodadvisor.com, is a good website that helps you to learn to read your dog and cat food labels. They also rate foods by their labels. Whole Dog Journal does an annual evaluation of most of the major brands of dog and cat foods. They publish it in their magazine. Once you learn to read the labels, you can use the same information to check your pet's treats. Millville Pet Stop staff are all very knowledgeable on food and treats for all of your pets and are happy to assist you with your learning.
A few things to look for right off the bat: if it has sugar, salt and food colorings, it is probably not of very high quality. Just like those ingredients are not good for you, they are even worse for your pet.
Look for “real” “whole” foods, such as chicken, beef, duck, salmon, etc., for meats. Look for things like blueberries, sweet potatoes, etc. — whole, real food. You do not want byproducts, the words “meat” or “animal fat” — these are not good items.
That will at least get you started.
You want to start spending more quality active time with your pet. Even old pets can become slightly more active. If you have questions about your pet's ability for exercise, speak with your veterinarian. You can also consider rehabilitation services for your older or ailing pet. Haven Lake Rehabilitation Center in Milford is a place I personally highly recommend. I have used their services and would use them again as needed.
The reading of articles — they more you educate yourself on your pet, the better owner/parent you can be. It is always good to stay current on the latest trends in pets. Some are good and some… but at least you become an educated owner. The more you learn about your particular breed of dog, the better you can understand why they do particular things or helpful ways to train your dog.
So, consider making yourself a pet new year's resolution designed specifically for your pet. Here's the start of mine for Reba, my 3-year-old bloodhound:
• One neighborhood walk per week
• One outing biweekly
• Aim for camping monthly in-season
• Weekly brushing
• Clean ears weekly
• Trim nails biweekly
• Bath bimonthly
• Weekly training sessions
• Weekly socialization training
• Weekly conformation training
• Weekly man-trailing training
• Work on slight weight loss (a few pounds); possibly additional exercise might work. If not, by the end of January, adjust food accordingly
Now, these are additions to what we already do, or things I need to be better about getting done on a regular basis (such as ears, nails and bath). I figure if I write them down, I'll be better about getting them done. Reba's food and treats are already in good shape.
I will probably add to this list, but these are a few of the things I know of right off the start. Once I get my list completed, I am going to sit down with my calendar and start scheduling these things in.
Go ahead, make your resolutions — but make them realistic and reasonable, so that maybe you will keep them.
Cheryl Loveland is a semi-retired dog groomer. She currently lives with Noel, her bichon frisée; Reba, her female bloodhound; Nala, her indoor cat; KitCat, the outdoor farm cat; and Max, her scarlet macaw. Also living on the property are numerous chickens and rabbits. Her daughter's pets include two dogs, a guinea pig, a box turtle and a tank of fish. She is a member of Colonial Bloodhound Club and Mispillion Kennel Club. She welcomes hearing from readers, with their comments and suggestions for future articles. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Cheryl Loveland
Special to the Coastal Point