PAWS AND REFLECT | New Year’s resolutions for pet owners

PAWS AND REFLECT | New Year’s resolutions for pet owners

PAWS AND REFLECT | New Year’s resolutions for pet owners

January is always inundated with resolutions that are, more often than not, forgotten by the end of February, when we resort back to our usual habits.

While tradition is to use the new year as a chance to start fresh and contemplate what changes to make in our lives, it made me curious as to how many pet owners incorporate their four-legged family members into their resolutions.


Keeping active

One of the most common resolutions that I hear amongst my friends and family is to lose weight. What about your pet? Has its waistline also expanded over the holidays?

You can take this opportunity to try a new activity with your pet that also encourages weight loss. From embarking on scenic hikes to clearing your mind with tranquil “doga,” these exercise options are a way for you to have fun and also get out of the house for quality time together. You can turn these outings into a group effort if you have friends or family members who share the same goal.

Another popular resolution is to learn something new. Some people will sign up for classes at a university or community college, take an art class or attempt to conquer a new hobby or sport, such as crochet or tennis. Did you know that old dogs can learn new tricks, too? Think about enrolling your slobbery student in an agility course (if their bodies are up to it) or a class where they can learn new commands and tricks.


Cleaning up

Organization is always something I strive to start doing more of every new year but, sadly, never even make it to February before I give up. Some of the ways I have attempted this in the past were to purchase large, weaved baskets that are pleasing to the eye but also suitable for holding my dogs’ too-numerous-to-count toys.

I’ve also put up decorative hooks on the wall to collect leashes, coats or purses that seem to prefer collecting on the floor of the mudroom.

Tupperware containers are also a great option to hold additional dry food or treats for your pets, in lieu of letting the original packaging clutter your pantry.


Sharing the love

A selfless resolution is to volunteer your services to help others. There are so many options available, and with most of them, your pet can lend a helping paw as well:

•Cook and deliver meals or dessert to a neighbor, or offer to walk their pets with yours, if they are unable.

•Put together care packs (granola bars or sandwiches, pet food, bottled water, toiletry items, etc.) and hand them out to the city’s homeless population.

•Visit a senior — Some nursing homes and assisted living facilities allow you to bring your dog or cat to visit the residents if you can provide proof of vaccinations and recent negative fecal testing. This is such an easy way to put a smile on the residents’ faces while they get to enjoy a moment with a furry, new friend.

•Volunteer at an animal shelter.

•Tutor a student — Libraries across the country are now offering classes where trained dogs sit with children while they read aloud to lessen anxiety when reading in front of others.

•Donate funds — While the idea of donating your time is awesome, this may not always be an option if you happen to lead a hectic life. If donating money is simpler, consider donating to food banks, animal shelters or hospitals in your pet’s name, instead of your own, to incorporate them.


Get checked

A good way to start the new year off on the right foot is to check your pet’s tags and microchip registration to ensure that it has the most up-to-date contact information. These methods of identification can sometimes become overlooked in the hustle-and-bustle of everyday life, and outdated information is generally not realized until your pet has gone missing.

Another great way to ensure your pet starts the new year off healthy is to contact your veterinarian to learn if Fido or Kitty is overdue for any necessary vaccinations or tests, such as fecal tests or annual blood work.


MEGAN L. FOUCH is the office manager at the Madison Park Veterinary Hospital ( To comment on this column, write to