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Healthy Dog Resolutions for 2017: A Month-By-Month Guide Posts by: Dr. Nancy Kay, DVM, DACVIM Dog Checkups & Preventive Care With the New Year rapidly approaching, now is a great time to begin thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. This year, how about getting your four-legged family members in on the act? Resolve to make your dog's life happier and healthier by adhering to a month-by-month planner. Have a look at the suggestions below, and feel free to revise according to what best suits you and your pets. You may even want to print this article out, and put it next to your calendar.
January: Schedule a veterinary visit, even if your dog isn’t due for any vaccinations. An annual visit includes a thorough physical examination. The sooner a problem is discovered, the greater the likelihood for a good outcome. An annual veterinary visit also provides the opportunity to discuss your dog’s nutrition, parasite control, behavior, and any other topics that are on your mind.
February: Take some whole body photos of your dog. It’s fun to share them on Instagram and Facebook, and, if the unthinkable ever happens and your pup goes missing, you’ll be able to post current images to facilitate a safe return.
March: With the weather starting to warm up a bit, now is a great time to begin a dog-walking regimen. Get out at least once or twice a day and gradually build up your distance. This will be fantastic for your dog’s health and for yours as well.
April: This is National Heartworm Prevention month. Make sure your dog has an annual heartworm test (a simple blood test) and that you are giving heartworm preventive medication exactly as prescribed.
May: May is “Chip Your Pet Month.” If your dog hasn’t been microchipped, make this a priority. If your pup is already microchipped, double check that your current contact information is updated with the microchip registry.
June: Did you know that there is an actual “Take Your Dog to Work Day?” It happens this month! What a great way to spend quality time with your best bud and enjoy interacting with your coworkers in a new and different way.
July: Assemble a list of emergency information that is in or near your phone at all times. Include numbers for the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline, your family veterinary clinic, a local 24-hour emergency hospital, and people who can, spur of the moment, responsibly care for your dog.
August: Make a habit of grooming your dog or at least running your hands over every square inch of fur on a regular basis. Not only will this provide some bonding time, it will also enable early detection of fleas, ticks, skin diseases, and any newly forming lumps and bumps.
September: Commit to brushing your dog’s teeth on a regular basis (at least three times a week) and then stick with this game plan. Don’t know how? Get some help from your veterinarian.
October: Be prepared for National Pet Obesity Awareness Day. Is your dog too lean, too heavy, or just right? Do you know your dog’s body condition score? Check in with your veterinarian to help assess if your dog is at a healthy weight. If needed, get some advice on creating a healthy weight loss program.
November: Set up a pet trust so that, should you become incapacitated or pass away, your dog will be will cared for.
December: Prepare emergency evacuation supplies for your dog. Be sure to include a two-week supply of food and water (include a can opener if needed), dishes for food and water, your dog’s favorite treats, a collar or harness with ID tags, a leash, a carrier (particularly if your dog is small), a favorite blanket, a copy of your dog’s medical records, a month’s supply of any medications, a first-aid kit, and recent photos of your dog.
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian -- they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.
How do you Know if Your Pet is a Healthy Weight
Breed Standard: When an animal is being examined by the veterinarian, part of the evaluation will focus on its body weight and condition. Based on the findings, the veterinarian will use the information to note possible health concerns and to recommend changes to the animal's diet and exercise routine. When an animal is a specific breed, there are standards that identify the appropriate weight for both males and females. As long as the pet is the typical height for it's breed, the animals weight should be within a determined standard range.
Body Condition Score: A system referred to as the body condition score (BCS), provides an easy means for comparing an actual pet's body to what it's body should look like. Websites contain instructions on how to look at your pet's body.
The following describes an easy and quick way for you to evaluate your pet's weight.
Stand above the pet so you can look down upon them
If you can see their ribs, they are underweight and too thin
If you can't see their ribs, try placing your hands on the sides of their chest, if you still can't see them, the pet is overweight
Stand to look at the side of the pet at it's waist, the area below the rib cage and above the hips. An animal of ideal weight will have an hourglass look showing a waist that tapers
If the pet is eggshaped, shows little or no taper at its waist, it is overweight
If the pet has a pendulous abdomen with noticeable hip and neck fat, it is obese.
Using this information may help recognize weight problems that could be the result of a pet getting too many treats, too much people food, or getting too little exercise. Very important to remember, any sudden weight gain or loss could indicate a health issue that needs to be brought to the Doctor's attention.