New year’s resolutions for pets (and their people)

Amanda McQueen, Special to The County
2 years ago

We hope everyone enjoyed a wonderful holiday season and is looking forward to the new year.  December was a busy month at the Central Aroostook Humane Society with so many people and businesses bringing in much-needed supplies and monetary donations, which help us to take care of the special temporary pets in our care.

We are truly so grateful for your support.

The start of a new year can signal a fresh start for pets needing a change in their routine. Here are ten resolutions from to make this year your pet’s healthiest year yet.

10 — Measure your pet’s food – every time. Many owners “eyeball” their pet’s daily intake and pour that into a bowl, usually resulting in overfeeding and weight gain. It’s important to use an 8-ounce measuring cup to ensure your pet isn’t taking in more calories than they need. The recommended feeding guidelines on the bag are good place to start to figure out how much food Fido (or Kitty) really needs.

9 — Choose an age-appropriate diet. Growing pets have very specific nutrient requirements to ensure their bodies grow healthy and strong. Choosing a diet specifically tailored to your pet’s life stage is a great way to keep them in optimal health.

8 — Try a new activity with your pet. From “doga” to hiking, skijoring to kayaking, it’s easier than ever for people to incorporate their pet into a new exercise routine. It’s a great way to bond, it’ll get you both out of the house, and both owner and pet will reap the rewards of healthy physical activity.  

7 — Incorporate (more) playtime. Cats love the thrill of chasing a laser toy; just don’t tell them it’s exercise. Toys that trigger a cat’s predatory instinct are a great way to get them off the couch and engaged in a little aerobic activity. Experiment to see what really gets your cat going. Even a cardboard box can become a cat cave that satisfies a cat’s desire for a hiding place.

6 — Make a date with your vet. Yearly vet examinations are a key component of good preventive care, and are also the perfect time to ask for advice, update your pet’s food, or get an expert opinion on any behavioral issues that may be affecting your bonding with your pet.

5 — Groom your pet daily. Brushing your pet serves many purposes. It removes excess fur from the coat, reducing the amount you find on your clothes and furniture. It helps distribute oils from the skin to the fur, keeping the coat shiny and healthy. Lastly, daily grooming is a bonding activity that demonstrates to your pet how much you love them by taking care of them in a very soothing manner.

4 — Practice good oral hygiene. Tooth brushing is the best way to keep tartar and plaque at bay; just be sure to use toothpaste meant for dogs and cats. Water additives, dental diets, and treats designed to reduce tartar can also be helpful tools in keeping teeth clean. 

3 — Teach an old dog a new trick. Studies show that mental stimulation can help reduce cognitive deterioration in aging animals. In other words, keeping your senior pet’s brain active can actually make it healthier. Teaching your pet new tricks and practicing those they already know are a great way to keep those neurons firing. Puzzle feeders, which force a pet to think through a task in order to be rewarded with a treat, are also an excellent way to keep a pet’s mind engaged.

2 — Update pet ID info. Over the course of a year, a lot can change. People move, get new phone numbers, and forget to update their pet’s tags. Often they only remember once the pet is lost. If any of your contact information has changed in 2015, don’t wait — update their tags and microchip information. It’s the best way to ensure a lost pet makes their way safely home.

1 — Consider fostering. You think you want a new pet, but you’re not 100 percent sure it’s right for you? Try fostering. Many animal shelters and rescues need loving homes to provide safe and temporary living arrangements for pets. It’s the perfect way to test the waters of pet ownership without the lifelong commitment, since you are simply hosting a pet while they wait for their forever home. Who knows? That home just might end up being yours.

If you are looking for that new pet, check out or stop by the Central Aroostook Humane Society. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., closing for lunch 12-12:30.  Please be responsible, spay and neuter your pets.

Amanda McQueen is on the board of directors of the Central Aroostook Humane Society.