Dog being combed

Have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet? Maybe you’re hoping to eat better, hit the gym more frequently or make a point to unplug from your phone more often. And sure, those are great goals, but what about your pets? Have you made any New Year’s resolutions regarding your cat or dog?

If not, never fear — we’ve got five goals you’ll want to add to your list before the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve.

1. Establish a daily grooming routine.

Not every dog or cat needs a thorough brushing every single day (although some do!), but setting aside time to either brush your pet or just give him a full-body rub down has numerous positive effects. For one thing, cats and dogs with fur that mats or sheds heavily can benefit greatly from having loose fur removed on a regular basis. And, as a bonus, you’ll see fewer balls of fur blowing across the living room, too.

But grooming isn’t all about the fur — it’s also about being familiar with any changes to your pet’s body. The sooner you notice any new lumps, bumps or areas that seem painful, the sooner you’ll be able to have your vet check things out — and if action needs to be taken, early detection and treatment can sometimes mean a better prognosis. You’ll also want to look at your pet’s feet, eyes and ears to watch for any changes there as well.

Finally, all pets should have their teeth brushed daily. We might not all do it as regularly as we should, but the New Year is the perfect time to make it a habit, right? If you’re not sure how to even go about brushing your dog’s teeth or are scared to put a brush near your kitty’s mouth — well, we have tips for brushing both cats’ teeth and dogs’. (You can do it. Honest.)

2. Create a regular training habit.

Maybe your pooch breezed through puppy kindergarten, or perhaps you have a cat who’s never taken an order in all her nine lives. Either way, spending just a few short minutes each day working on clicker training with your pet (using positive reinforcement, of course) is a simple way to help improve both your pet’s manners and his quality of life.

How? Well, for one thing, consistent training can help boost your cat or dog’s confidence. Many skittish, shy and fearful animals can learn to become more social if taught the proper techniques, like hand targeting. And if your pet is already outgoing and comfortable in a variety of situations, teaching her additional tricks can help enrich her life — plus, it will be fun to show off what she’s learned the next time someone comes to your house.

3. Stay on track with preventive care. 

Whether we’re talking about annual/semi-annual vet visits or monthly flea, tick and heartworm prevention, it’s your responsibility as a good pet owner to stay up to date on the preventive care that helps keep your pet healthy. It’s not like your pets are going to remind you — they can’t read a calendar! But you sure can. And with the ease of setting reminders in multiple places in all kinds of ways (paper calendar, email reminders, pop-up reminders on your phone), there’s really no excuse to miss an appointment or a dose. Remember, it might feel like a bit of an investment at the time, but staying up to date on preventive care can save you money down the line. Really!

4. Clean your pet’s bowls, toys and bedding.

While we’re discussing things that should be done regularly, let’s talk about cleaning. (It’s not just for spring time, you know.) Your pet’s food and water dishes should be washed weekly, either in the dishwasher (if the bowls are dishwasher-safe) or by hand using hot, soapy water. Bedding and covers should be laundered weekly and crates and carriers that are frequently used should also be cleaned weekly using pet-safe cleaning products.

5. Carve out time to play.

Play is important, not just for kittens and puppies, but also for adult dogs and cats. You might be thinking that the winter weather that comes along with January (at least in some areas) means you need to put playing with your pup on hold, but that’s not true — there are plenty of ways to interact with and encourage activity for your dog (or cat) without ever opening the front door!

And it’s not only your furry friend who will benefit from these New Year’s resolutions. Strengthening the bond you share with your pet is good for you, too. So go ahead — write down your goals, stick them on the fridge and follow through — and see just how great you and your pets feel at this time next year!

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