Happy New Year!

Well it’s here! 2009! A chance to start aaaaaallll over again! New Year’s resolutions to make and break and re-make!

So what about it? Gonna get fit this year? Great! How about Fido and Kitty? THEY could probably use to lose a bit, too, if they’re like the average dog or cat in America. Yessiree, we do feed our critters well – maybe a bit TOO well! That thing that hangs under the cat and swings back and forth when it runs? That’s a fat layer that’s sagging down. Don’t see Fido’s muscular build any more? Hmmmmmm….

Then here we go with some tips for getting our PETS back in shape. And the benefit of doing this (well, with Fido anyway) is that WE will get back into better shape, too!

If your kitty has a paunch hanging, or if Kitty is just getting chubby ALLLL over, try cutting back the food! It’s as simple as that. Not sure where it started but folks believe that cats need to graze all day and they leave the food out. Well, it’s not true. Maybe when cats were more active (like farm cats) they needed to graze but gotta tell ya, house cats (even those that go outside) don’t need this type of feeding. So cut back! Hey – you’re away during the day, working, so you won’t hear the complaints if there are any (and I’m sure there will be). Once Kitty gets used to the change in food, and his / her weight starts to come down, you’ll see a more youthful, HEALTHY kitty!

Want to try exercising Kitty? Get a fishing rod and a cat toy – even a balled up piece of tin foil will work. “Cast” the line, so to speak, with the toy on the end of the fishing line. Kitty will appreciate “hunting” for the toy. The chase is often better than the catch! And Kitty will get much needed exercise while you trigger primal instinctive hunting traits that keep her mind as well as her body occupied.

One last thing about cats – they DO get bored, so keeping them stimulated mentally is a great way to entertain both of you!

Ok, on to Fido. One of my dogs was a bit overweight a few years back. I had the treadmill upstairs and I can remember that the dog took a keen interest in the movement of the belt. So when I got off, I put him ON! He thoroughly enjoyed trotting along and we thoroughly enjoyed watching him! Now I’m not saying a treadmill is good for EVERY dog, but it worked for mine!

Lacking a treadmill, the simple solution is to take Fido for a walk. But there are a few things that are very important to remember.

First and foremost, KEEP FIDO ON A LEASH! There is nothing more devastating than having the family dog run out into the road and get killed by a snowplow. The trucks can not stop that fast. Even just having a dog dart out from behind a snow bank is enough to cause a car to swerve, causing an accident (and guess who, by the way, would have to end up paying for any damages caused by their dog’s causing an accident? YOU).

Keep an eye out for frostbite. Dogs’ ears and tail are particularly susceptible to this issue but it can happen anywhere. Look for skin that’s reddish, white or grey. Gently warm that skin with a warm, moist towel. Change the towels frequently to keep the warmth. Be careful they’re not TOO hot or you’ll injure the area further. Contact your veterinarian as quickly as possible as they’ll probably want to check the degree of frostbite.

Antifreeze is a big issue as well so don’t let Fido lick at ANY puddles. Remember that even one teaspoon of antifreeze can kill an average sized dog.

If Fido appears to be stressed during your walk, you’ll want to bring him / her home asap. Remember that while you wouldn’t run a marathon your first time out, neither should Fido!

At the end of the walk, check Fido’s feet for any ice or snow and make sure to carefully remove this. Check for any cuts as well and treat them accordingly. As salt is used on the roadways, you want to make sure to wash Fido’s feet as well – but be sure to dry them thoroughly, especially between the toes, to avoid an athlete’s feet kind of issue.

For treats, give Fido some carrot sticks (my dogs LOVE them!), pepper slices, etc., and, as always, consult your veterinarian before starting ANY exercise plan!

Your veterinarian is your best resource for your pet and he / she can tell you the best way to help Kitty and Fido be all that they can be!

So Happy New Year and keep up the good work!!! I expect to see fit and trim dogs and cats out there!!! (Ya, right!)….

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