New Year’s Resolutions
By Janelle Allen, LVT
Creating Goals for Our Pets
It’s the start of a new year and most people are working on implementing some New Year’s resolutions for themselves. But what about our pets? Most of us probably don’t think about creating a resolution involving our furry companions, but maybe we should. Let’s explore what those goals might look like for our pets and how we might achieve them.
So, what would be a good resolution for your pet? To answer that, we need to identify if there are any aspects of their life that could be improved. Is your pet carrying a little (or a lot) extra weight? Do they have pent up energy? Are they less active than they used to be? Is there something they used to enjoy doing but are no longer able to do? While not an exhaustive list, these are the types of questions you should ask yourself. From here, we can start to decide on a goal. Maybe our goal might be increasing exercise or maybe it’s losing a little weight. Maybe our goal is to improve our pet’s performance in their sport, like agility or dock diving. These are some broad goals. In order to be successful with these broad goals, we need to set more specific parameters, such as losing 3 pounds in 3 months, or going for 3-4 walks per week.
Where to Start
It can be very tough to come up with a specific goal, so don’t be afraid to reach out to your veterinarian. If your pet hasn’t seen their regular veterinarian in a while, this is a great place to start. Current guidelines recommend a yearly physical examination, even if your pet isn’t due for any vaccine updates. A complete physical exam each year can help alert your veterinarian to any changes going on with your pet. Identifying these changes can help when trying to formulate a plan to achieve your goals for your furry friend. Make sure you express any concerns that you have about your animal. Your veterinarian can help you set a more specific goal that is reasonably attainable. Then, they can help point you in the right direction to make your pet’s resolutions a reality.
What Resolutions Mean to Us
If your goals for your pet are based around increasing exercise, promoting weight loss, improving mobility, decreasing pain, or all of the above, rehabilitation therapy could be a great tool. Some of our patients have just had surgery and need a little help getting back to their normal activities. Some are competitive athletes that need an extra boost to improve their performance. Some are carrying a few extra pounds and need some help getting started with a weight management plan. Our rehabilitation plans are customized to each patient and their family’s goals for them. We use structured exercises to target specific muscle groups in order to strengthen and define them. Regular use of the underwater treadmill is great for improving overall stamina and strength. We offer many different pain management modalities, including massage, cold laser, and acupuncture. For patients who need some help with losing some pounds, we calculate how many calories they are currently getting and discuss how we can decrease them as well as how to add in daily exercises in order to achieve our goals.
Just like our own resolutions, it will take some time and effort to achieve our goals for our pets. The expression goes, ”If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” This not only applies to ourselves but to our animals as well. We might not be successful with our resolutions the first time around, but that doesn’t mean we have failed. Sometimes our plans just need to be adjusted or tweaked. Resolutions are a team effort, even the ones we create for ourselves.