New year’s resolutions for pets (and their people)

We hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season and we look forward to the new year. December was a busy month at Central Aroostook Humane Society with lots of people and companies bringing in much-needed supplies and financial donations, helping us care for the special temporary pets in our care.

We hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season and we look forward to the new year. December was a busy month at Central Aroostook Humane Society with lots of people and companies bringing in much-needed supplies and financial donations, helping us care for the special temporary pets in our care.

We are really very grateful for your support.

The beginning of the new year can signify a fresh start for pets that need a change in their routine. Here are ten resolutions from ASPCA.org to make this year the best year for your pet yet.

10 – Measure your pet’s food – every time. Many owners of the “eyeball” take their pet’s daily food and pour it into a bowl, which usually leads to overeating and weight gain. It is important to use an 8-ounce measuring cup to ensure that your pet does not consume more calories than he needs. The recommended feeding instructions on the bag are a good place to start figuring out how much food your Fido (or Kitty) really needs.

9- Choose an age-appropriate diet. Raising pets has very specific nutritional requirements to ensure that their bodies grow healthy and strong. Choosing a diet tailored to your pet’s life stage is a great way to keep them in optimal health.

8 – Try a new activity with your pet. From doga to hiking, snowboarding, and kayaking, it’s easier than ever for people to incorporate their pets into a new exercise routine. It’s a great way to bond, it will get you out of the house, and both the owner and the pet will reap the rewards of healthy physical activity.

7 – Incorporating (more) playing time. Cats love the thrill of chasing a laser game; Just don’t tell them it’s an exercise. Toys that stimulate your cat’s predatory instinct are a great way to get her off the couch and get involved in a bit of aerobic activity. Experiment to see what makes your cat run. Even a cardboard box can become a cat cave that fulfills a cat’s desire for a hiding place.

6- Make an appointment with the vet. Annual veterinary checkups are an essential component of good preventative care, and it’s also the perfect time to seek advice, update your pet’s food, or get an expert opinion on any behavior issues that may be affecting your relationship with your pet.

5- Take care of your pet daily. Cleaning your pet serves several purposes. It removes excess fur from the coat, and reduces the amount you find on your clothes and furniture. It helps distribute oils from the skin to the fur, making the coat shiny and healthy. Finally, daily grooming is a bonding activity that shows your pet how much you love him by taking care of him in a very relaxing way.

4- Practice good oral hygiene. Tooth brushing is the best way to keep tartar and plaque at bay. Just be sure to use a toothpaste made for dogs and cats. Water additives, dental diets, and treatments designed to reduce tartar can also be helpful tools in maintaining dental hygiene.

3 – Teach an old dog a new trick. Studies show that mental stimulation can help reduce cognitive decline in elderly animals. In other words, keeping your pet’s great brain active can make them healthier. Teaching your pet new tricks and practicing those they already know is a great way to keep those neurons active. Puzzle feeders, which force a pet to think of a task in order to be rewarded with a reward, are also an excellent way to keep a pet’s mind occupied.

2 – Update pet identification information. Over the course of a year, a lot can change. People move around, get new phone numbers, and forget to update their pet cards. They often only remember once the pet is lost. If any of your contact information changed in 2015, don’t wait – update their tags and microchip information. It’s the best way to make sure a lost pet makes their way home safely.

1 – Consider the nursery. Think you want a new pet, but aren’t 100% sure it’s right for you? Try adoption. Many animal shelters and rescues need loving homes to provide safe, temporary living arrangements for pets. It’s the perfect way to test the waters of pet ownership without a lifetime commitment, simply because you are hosting a pet while they wait for their forever home. Who do you know? This house may become yours.

If you’re looking for a new pet, check out petfinders.com or stop by the Central Arostock Humane Society. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and they close for lunch from 12-12:30. Please be responsible, sterilize and neuter pets.

Amanda McQueen is a board member of the Arostock Humanities Central.

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