New Year’s Resolutions – do you make them? And if so, do you actually keep them? According to YouGov, only 16% of UK adults made a New Year Resolution in 2022. Perhaps their waning popularity is due to the fact that most of these good intentions come to nothing: only 31% managed to keep their resolutions.
A popular method to help keep a resolution is to engage some form of accountability: someone or something to keep you on track. Eating more healthily alongside your partner, perhaps, or roping in a friend as an exercise buddy.
Here at VetHelpDirect, we have another idea – make resolutions that are a force for good by making them all about your pets! Engaging our pets in our intentions for the year is a win-win: our pets benefit from our focus, and we are more likely to keep to our goals when we know they are helping our furry friends. Seems like a good idea to me!
Read on for some ideas to kick off 2023!
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Be more active
A common resolution is to exercise more, be healthier or engage in some form of activity. This doesn’t have to involve getting up at 5am to pound the streets in your lycra gear! Why not commit to making your dog’s walks 15 minutes longer? Or set aside 10 minutes every day to engage in active play with your cat? Just small changes can mean a great deal to the lives of our pet companions.
Drop the pounds
It’s another hit on the resolution bingo – with 40% of resolutions in the YouGov 2022 survey mentioning weight loss. If you know that your pet is carrying a little bit extra, why not make a New Year trip to the vet for a weight check and discussion about your pet’s nutrition. Obesity is a growing epidemic amongst UK pets, with a recent survey showing that 1 in 14 dogs were recorded by their vets as being overweight. Obese pets have shorter lifespans and higher frequencies of some diseases such as arthritis, diabetes and heart disease and so helping them reach their ideal body condition is a very worthwhile goal.
Take the time
Spending more time with family and friends is a wish that many people share for their lives. So why don’t we apply this pledge to our pets? In our busy, modern lives, it is common for pets to be left alone for periods of time, and for our days to be filled with work, family and other commitments. How could you resolve to spend more time with your pet? Perhaps a daily play session with your dog, a weekly groom for your cat, or a regular handling session with a gerbil or hamster? Your pets will love the extra attention, and spending time with our furry companions is always time well spent.
No, I’m not talking about teaching the dog to knit, or the rabbit to paddle-board (Cool ideas though Lizzie…! -Editor)!
Taking up a new activity is a common human goal, but we can apply this to our pets as well. All animals can benefit from enrichment. This can mean almost anything, from physical games to mental stimulation and boredom-busting puzzles. Why not try a puzzle game for your cat, or teach your puppy some tricks? You could introduce a tunnel system for your guinea pig, or invest in a larger tank with some hidey holes for your fish.
Another common resolution is to either break a bad habit, or foster a good intention. Cut down on social media, be more patient at work, or just to stop biting your nails! Now, of course, our pets are practically perfect in every way, but there may be some behaviours that you’ve been letting slide. Could you figure out how to stop your dog from chasing cyclists? Or stop your cat from scratching up the furniture? Now, these are unlikely to be a quick fix, and it should be remembered that punishment is not a good training method. Undertake to understand the behaviour, and then invest some time to correct it. Some more severe problems may require a professional animal behaviourist.
Ahh, the dream for many, to reduce the stresses and strains of everyday life! Stress and anxiety can be difficult to spot in animals, but they are actually fairly common problems. Think about your pet’s behaviour and routine, and whether anything seems to bother them. Do your cats compete over the food bowls? Does your dog howl when you leave the house? Does your rabbit freeze or hunch over when loud noises occur? Some stress is unavoidable in life, but there may be small changes you can make to your household to ease our pets’ day. There are some useful tips on recognising and managing stress in cats here, dogs here, and rabbits here.
New Year’s Resolutions: Final Thoughts
Are you feeling inspired? Do you think you might make a pet-related intention for the coming year? Or maybe a resolution aimed at both you and your pet! Using our resolutions for 2023 to enrich our pets’ lives as well as our own is a very worthwhile endeavour, and adding our pets into our thoughts can be hugely beneficial for both them and us. Let us know if you’re planning your New Year’s Resolutions!