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Want your dog to lead a healthier life this year? Whether your dog is overweight or you’re not sure he’s getting all the nutrients he needs, here are 6 healthy New Year’s resolutions for your dog that will help ensure he’s around for a long time to come.
Making sure your pup’s getting enough exercise is an excellent dog New Year’s Resolution to start with. Dogs that don’t get enough exercise tend to be overweight. And, a lack of exercise, especially for high-energy dogs, can also cause boredom and lead to behavioral problems.
There is no specific amount of time that every dog needs to spend exercising to stay at a healthy weight. Depending on your dog’s breed, he might need anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours (or more) of activity. Knowing how much exercise your dog needs is the first step in having a healthy dog.
Small breed dogs and brachycephalic dogs (those with squashed-in faces like Pugs) need only 20 to 30 minutes of exercise per day. For these dogs, one half-hour walk per day can be enough.
Despite their size, giant breed dogs also have moderate exercise needs. Most giant breed dogs need a single 30 to 45-minute walk each day, or two shorter ones.
Most other dog breeds need lots more exercise. All the terriers, for instance, need at least 60 to 90 minutes per day, as do scent hounds like Beagles and Basset Hounds.
Breeds that fall into the sporting, working, and herding categories need anywhere from 60 to 120 minutes a day, with most falling closer to the two-hour mark. Some of these breeds include Poodles, Huskies, Rottweilers, Corgis, Sheepdogs, and Collies.
Read more about why it’s important to walk your dog every day.
One of the best ways to keep your dog healthy is to ensure she’s eating a balanced diet. That might mean making one of your dog’s new year resolutions cutting out the table scraps.
For some dog owners, feeding their dog a healthy diet means skipping the commercial food and doing all the cooking themselves. If that’s something you’re interested in, consult with a doggy nutritionist first to determine the optimal diet for your individual pooch.
Not ready to ditch the ready-made food? That’s perfectly fine. Just make sure you’re giving the right amount of food for your pup’s size, breed, and age. And, be careful of how many treats you give. If your New Year’s resolution for yourself is to cut out the junk food this year, consider doing the same for your dog!
Have an older dog and still feeding him the same kibble you’ve been giving him for years? Resolve to switch to something formulated with senior dogs in mind. These foods usually feature extra nutrients to help with things like arthritis, eyesight, and cognition. Adding a daily supplement can also help.
Healthy dogs get both physical and mental exercise. See to your pup’s mental health by making new tricks part of this year’s New Year’s resolutions for your dog
Learning a new trick engages your dog’s mind regardless of his age. For puppies, it focuses all that pent-up energy they need to expel. And for older dogs, it stimulates their interest and helps keep their mind active and sharp.
Additionally, learning new tricks builds a dog’s confidence in himself. The better he does, and the more praise you give him, the better he feels about himself.
As a side benefit, many tricks also help build muscle tone, stamina, flexibility, balance and coordination, making your dog physically healthier, as well.
Good oral care is a critical piece of your dog’s overall health. Dental disease can spread beyond your pup’s mouth and affect several of his vital organs. If you’re not already cleaning your dog’s teeth on at least a weekly basis, make dental cleanings one of your dog’s New Year’s Resolutions.
Find out more about dental care for dogs and why it’s important.
Dogs, like their wolf ancestors, are pack animals. They crave social interaction and affection, most especially from their family. In fact, your dog’s mental health and wellbeing depend partly on the attention he gets from you. Dogs ignored by their owners are often depressed or timid and may act out.
You’ll benefit from a New Year’s resolution to spend more time with your dog, too. Studies have found that people who spend time with their dogs are less depressed and anxious. You can even give yourself a burst of oxytocin simply by staring into your dog’s eyes.
Keep in mind how much social interaction your dog needs can vary by breed. Some breeds need significantly more attention to be happy. Labrador Retrievers and most Terriers, for instance, need more active attention, like going for a run or playing catch together. Other dogs, are happy to cuddle with you on the couch watching TV.
To truly give your pup a health boost this year, start thinking holistically. Every aspect of your dog’s life impacts her overall health. How much exercise she gets and what she eats affects her physical health. Staying engaged and spending time with you affects her mental health.
And, at the same time, her physical health affects her mental health and vice versa. An overweight dog may not be able to play as much and may start to feel bored and depressed. A lonely or anxious dog might internalize her stress and wind up with stomach problems or skin irritation.
Approaching your dog’s health from a holistic perspective is the best New Year’s Resolution you can make for your dog this year.