MANILA, Philippines – The new year is always a great excuse to make resolutions for self-improvement, so for pet owners, this is the perfect time to commit to habits that will give you and your pet a better life.
You may feel like you’re already spoiling your pet silly (which is probably true), but it might be good to reevaluate how you care for your pet and see where you can improve. And no, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to get them new clothes or a monthly toy subscription (though you absolutely can if you want to).
As we ring in the new year, here are some simple changes you can make or habits you can start that’ll help you become a better pet parent:
Walk the walk
Most vets and animal behaviorists agree that a daily walk is crucial to your dog’s (and apparently, even cat’s) mental and physical health. They not only get to exercise and prevent obesity, but the sights, sounds, and smells are great for stimulating their senses. Tired dogs also tend to misbehave less (who has energy to chew on the furniture when they’re recovering from their walk?) which means everyone is happy. Also, walks are healthy for humans too! A 30-minute walk a day is a good baseline, but your dog may need more time out depending on their energy level and breed.
Enrich their lives
Daily walks make a world of difference to your pet, but you shouldn’t stop there. For your pet to have a truly full life, they also need enrichment – basically anything that makes their days more interesting. You can do this by spending a few minutes a day to teach them new tricks (yes, even cats can learn!), buying them new toys every now and then, taking them to an off-leash park or new place once a week, socializing them with other dogs or animals, or, in the case of cats, setting up their play areas with new scratchpoles and perches.
Scoop the poop
A surprising amount of dog owners still don’t bother picking up after their dog when they poop. But to paraphrase President Nadine Lustre, c’mon guys, it’s 2022! Your pet’s shit is 100% your responsibility. Attach a poop bag dispenser to your dog’s leash, or keep your old newspapers/broom by the door so you always have pooper scoopers handy whenever you take your dog out. Cat owners aren’t exempt from this – changing your kitty’s litter every day ensures that their potty-time is always pleasant.
Spay and neuter
This might be a controversial to some pet owners, but with the amount of stray dogs and cats out there still needing homes, perhaps it’s best for us to keep animal populations low and leave the breeding to the professionals. It may be tempting to get mini versions of the pet you already love, and some pet owners also see it as a money-making opportunity. But pets are not cash cows, and their puppies and kittens are hardly their clones. Also, neutering your pet lowers their risk for a number of diseases, and can also improve some behavioral issues. A number of clinics offer spaying and neutering at affordable rates – check out PAWS or the Philippine Pet Birth Control Center (PPBCC) Foundation.
Feed them better
As difficult as it can be, let this be the year that we are immune to the googly eyes and say NO when our pets beg us for more treats or table food. If you’re already feeding your pet good quality food, you don’t have to add much else to their diet. Treats are great in moderation – for training or special occasions. But our pets are much better off eating an appropriate amount of nutritionally balanced meals every day. Also, make sure to consult with your vet for what best to feed your pet, and remember to take internet advice with a grain of salt.
Spare yourself the stress of worrying about vet bills by getting your pet an insurance plan. Several companies offer comprehensive plans that cover emergency vet visits, accidents, death, and even damage caused by your pet! The premiums for these plans are also surprisingly affordable. Check out Malayan Insurance, Standard Insurance, or Metropolitan Insurance to see which plan suits your budget and needs.
QT with your cuties
It may feel like you already spend enough time with your pet especially since we’re all stuck at home – but how much of your day do you actually spend focused on your pet, giving them cuddles and scritchies, and playing with them? All pets ever want is to be with their humans, and we owe it to them to really be with them and give them our full attention when we can. – Rappler.com