Instead of making the typical resolutions, like losing weight or cutting out junk food, try thinking of ways to share resolutions with your furry friends. 

Pets are beautiful additions to families, so why should taking care of them like regular family members be difficult? Just like humans, pets need their basic needs met to function properly and live long and happy lives. This includes regular visits to the vet, exercise and well-balanced diets, among other necessities. 

The number of times a pet needs to visit the vet per year depends on a slew of factors, but local vets recommend at least once each year as a good rule of thumb. 

It’s imperative to keep a watchful eye on vaccinations and make sure young pets receive a general checkup around once a month. Doing so could ensure they are safe from dangerous diseases. 

When your animal reaches adulthood, vet visits could be less frequent, perhaps once a year and/or when you, as a pet owner, have cause for concern. These yearly visits could include updates on shots as well as a checkup on overall health. 

When your pet enters the senior years, vet visits could ramp up slightly. Just like people, age can bring on additional health risks and complications that may need further attention. 

There are some health concerns owners should look out for throughout a pet’s entire life. Pets that live in the South are subjected more often to the possibility of acquiring heartworm and/or fleas, said Alexander City Vet Clinic Office Manager Laura Fagan.

“The biggest thing in the South when it comes to your pet’s health is heartworm and flea prevention. Owners typically don’t think about it. It’s something you must do every single month, and sometimes, it just gets forgotten about. Some people don’t know about it. Some people don’t realize you need heartworm prevention. Even if you don’t see worms, it doesn’t mean your pet doesn’t have them. Some of them are completely microscopic, and you don’t see them,” Fagan explained. 

With the microscopic nature of the heartworm or flea, it could be hard for pet owners to notice until the summertime when it often ramps up. If found too late, it can take months to rid your pet and your home of fleas, which tend to reproduce at an alarming rate. To ensure your pet’s safety, it’s vital to keep constant supervision over them and have frequent vet visits and consultations. 

To keep your furry friends healthy, talk to your veterinarian about any concerns or questions you have regarding your pet’s health. 

“Definitely make sure your pets are getting their well visits to the vet. It’s something, if you get a new puppy, that you make sure you do. Also keep the shots up to date. A lot of people here in the South just worry about rabies, and it’s important to do the heartworm prevention. Heartworms are caused by mosquitos. If your pet isn’t on a preventative, it could be harmful to the pets,” Lake Martin Animal Shelter Director Kim Hall said. 

Vet visits take care of your pet’s health-related needs, but it’s up to you as the owner to make sure exercise is instilled in your pet’s daily routine. Much like the number of vet visits per year, the amount of exercise your pet needs depend on the type and breed. 

Some dogs require more exercise than others, but even their recommended exercise changes as they progress through life. Look at resources online or ask your veterinarian for ways to enhance your dog’s exercise routine. 

Although letting your furry friends run around is a great way to keep them active, taking them on a walk is another healthy activity that establishes a steady routine they look forward to each day. With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it can be easier to view walking your dog as a chore than a way to spend quality time with them and get a bit of fresh air and exercise for yourself. 

Not only does a quick walk around the neighborhood contribute time to their daily exercise, but it also gives you a chance to unwind after a busy day. Whether you choose an early morning walk or a midafternoon walk, your pets will cherish time spent with you each day. 

Another way to put your pet first at the start of the New Year is by keeping up with their grooming needs. Much like us, animals need their nails clipped, hair washed and maybe even a cute bow from time to time. Luckily, there are a couple ways to keep your pets looking their best. Pet stores and local spots, such as Talli and Friends and Southern Star Pet Grooming, are great options.

Oftentimes, pet owners are unsure of how to train their pets by themselves. Keeping your dog from being too rambunctious could be beneficial in instances when they are around a large group of people, kids or even other animals. Training classes are available throughout the area and could ensure pets understand basic commands and practice good behavior. 

“You don’t realize that training is just for you to get them to have behaviors that you like, but it tires out their brains, and it engages them at a different level. Everyone has these Christmas puppies; do some training. It helps their behaviors, and it will tire out their little puppy brains, so they aren’t getting into trouble,” Fagan explained. 

Take these tips into the New Year to ensure your pet lives a long and happy life. Instilling these quick tips, tricks and practices into your pets’ lives could not only make your pet happier, but also, it could help you grow an even stronger connection with your furry loved ones.