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Tips to help give your pets a fresh start in the new year from Inverness vet Alison Laurie-Chalmers

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Your pets can benefit from vet check-ups.
Your pets can benefit from vet check-ups.

This new year there is an opportunity for a new, welcome, fresh start for all of us – and that also goes for our pets too.

This is the time for making new resolutions, and it is a great time to work on being healthier together. Here is some advice for some good health resolutions for you to make for your beloved pet.

Obesity: Most pets have notably gained weight over the Covid-restriction year. A healthier pet is one that is carrying less excess weight.

Feeding a measured, good quality diet, tailored for your pet’s age, stage and type will ensure that your pet is receiving all the essential nutrients that they need to help them live a long and healthy life.

Always weigh and measure your pet’s food out at each feed. Be very aware and cautious of overfeeding your pet. Please do cut down on, or stop, those extra treats.

These extra calories all add up and do, over time, cause obesity. Overweight pets are at a higher risk of developing diabetes, osteoarthritis, heart and liver disease, and some forms of cancer.

Ask for professional advice on appropriate diets and amounts and set your pet a target weight as a goal, say in three months. Most vet practices run nurse weight clinics, which will assist you to help your pet reach their ideal target weight.

Dental care: Sadly, by the relatively young age of three years old, up to 85 per cent of our pets have some form of dental disease.

Look at your pet’s teeth for any plaque and tartar build-up, which can then lead to painful gingivitis, tooth-root abscesses, bone loss, and systemic infection. Make a change for the better for your pet in 2021 and work on their oral healthcare routine by paying attention to their teeth and dental hygiene.

Regular brushing of your pet’s teeth with a pet-safe toothpaste and brush is a cost-effective preventative measure to avoid gum disease and tooth decay. Toothbrushing each day will help and regular check-ups with your vet clinic will help keep those teeth monitored and cleaned if necessary.

Exercise: This has been proven to be good for mental health, for both ourselves and our pets.

Our pets can sometimes have a very sedate life. They have plentiful food, a cosy bed and all the toys they could ever wish for.

Most dogs can get bored with this though, and with boredom comes behavioural problems. A good walk out in the country, instead of a quick one around the block can help. Organise some time each week if you can, for a good, brisk dog walk. It not only stimulates your dog’s mind with new smells and experiences, but it’s also good for you and helps strengthen your bond.

Try to vary routes, or find new ones, it is exciting for them to explore somewhere new, like a new forest or beach walk. Or you could get back to some basic training and teach them a new trick to learn, or why not try out dog agility? Even an old dog can learn some new tricks!

Vet checks: Preventative healthcare is so important, and it is often during routine vet checks that any potential problems are highlighted. Ensure your pets are up to date with their vaccinations and preventative flea, tick and worming treatments and arrange an appointment for a thorough check-up for your pet in the new year.

Best wishes for a happier, and a healthy new year.

• Alison Laurie-Chalmers is a senior consultant at Crown Vets in Inverness.

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