Lifestyle | 1 Min Read

Teaching an old dog new tricks: your guide to dog-friendly New Year's resolutions

Let's not hog all the self-improvement for ourselves in the new year. Your dog deserves a chance to live a happier, healthier life, too. And while they're capable of amazing things, your pet is going to need a bit of help setting and achieving some big-time goals.

Ready for some new year, new you, new dog action? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Get pet health insurance

    Accidents and illness can occur without warning, often leading to a pricey vet bill. Ensure you have an active health insurance policy for your pet to help reduce the financial pressure during these stressful situations.

  2. Call the vet – today

    Do you only go to the vet when your pet is sick? No judgments here – we know plenty of people who only go to animal doctors when things are bad. But it's important to get yearly check-ups even if your pet is healthy. A six-monthly checkup with annual blood tests is a great idea for pets over the age of 7 (or over 5 for giant breeds). Besides staying up to date on vaccines and parasite prevention, these visits help your vet identify any health problems early on when they are often easier to treat.

  3. Put a (shinier) smile on their face

    Most dogs and cats over the age of 3 show signs of dental disease. That makes the new year a great time to brush up your dog’s smile.

    Along with looking nice and bright and shiny, there's key health benefits to improving your dog's dental hygiene game. These include reducing plaque and tartar buildup, which helps prevent gingivitis and periodontal disease. It also helps everybody in the house avoid smelly breath!

    Vets recommend brushing at least three times per week, daily if possible. Ease into the process by giving the teeth a brush one to three times a week, then build up to daily brushing when you and your dog can handle it. A soft children’s toothbrush with water works well - make sure you brush gently and include the gum line. And you can try a dog toothpaste for some extra flavour. Keep sessions short and positive, with regular treats along the way. Your vet or vet nurse can teach you some handy techniques.

  4. Get up, get out, get movin'

    Increasing exercise with your dog is good for their weight management and overall health – and yours. Step up the daily walks in the new year, whether it be to the beach, on trails, in parks or just around your neighbourhood. Try to get in one good walk a day. (And stay on top of your tick prevention too!)

  5. Makeover your menu

    It’s easy to walk down the supermarket or pet store aisle and pick up the nearest pet food off the shelf. Or you may be swayed by the latest social media pet food ads. But dogs have very specific daily nutritional requirements for calories, protein, carbohydrates and fats based on their breed, weight and other health and lifestyle needs. Check in with your vet to make sure your pet is getting the right food for their needs.

  6. See which supplements suit

    Good quality supplements can provide additional support to help your dog live a healthy, active life. While not all dogs need them, supplements can be really helpful for certain problem areas. Check out our range of supplements that may be suitable for your dog.

  7. Prepare for the worst

    Over the past few years we've seen floods, bushfires and other disasters cause plenty of problems for us and our pets. So it's always good to have your eyes open – and your kit ready – in case the worst comes your way.

    So if you live in a high risk area, and you've been putting it off, now is the time to build a dog emergency kit. Consider including:
    • Your dog's medical records 
    • A leash and harness 
    • Extra food, treats and bottled water
    • A collapsible bowl 
    • First aid supplies such as tweezers, gauze, bandages.

      Stash it somewhere you'll remember so you'll have quick grab-and-go access if needed. Though let's hope that's never the case!

  8. Improve your dog’s mental health with puzzle toys

    Puzzle toys are a great way to mentally stimulate your dog and enrich their environment. They can also reduce destructive behaviour caused by anxiety and keep your dog’s brain healthier overall.

  9. Clean up your grooming routine

    We get it – life gets busy. And we as owners can forget or just not have time to brush our dogs’ coats, trim their nails or clean their ears. But scheduling in time for daily brushing can go a long way to help improve your dog’s skin and coat health, and reduce that doggy smell. Visit your local groomer or vet for a nail clip, and if the ears canals look mucky some further testing may be necessary to screen for an ear infection.

  10. Experiment and adventure

    While we all love our local, sometimes it's fun and rewarding to go somewhere new. Routine is great, but don't be afraid to branch out a little. New walking routes, hiking, going to the beach or pool, heading to a farmers’ market, spoiling them with a puppuccino – they can all be a lot of fun for both of you. 

By giving your dog a New Year's resolution list of their own, you'll have a buddy on hand to help you stick to your goals – and potentially help your dog lead a happier, healthier life.

What are your New Year's resolutions for your four-legged friend?

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