by Alissa Wolf

New Year’s resolutions have long been popular with humans. But what about pets? They, too, can benefit from ushering in the New Year by making and following a list of their very own resolutions, which can equally benefit their humans.

Here are five great ones for fur kids and their people:

1.) Start the New Year Off with a Healthy Diet

People aren’t the only ones who struggle with ballooning waistlines. Pets have increasingly become more portly in recent years. According to Dr. Ernie Ward DVM, who founded the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention in 2005, obesity is the number one pet health threat.

The association estimates that 59 percent of cats and 54 percent of dogs in the U.S. are obese, based on data from a 2016 survey. “Obesity is a disease that kills millions of pets prematurely, creates immeasurable pain and suffering, and costs pet owners tens of millions of dollars in avoidable medical costs,” Dr. Ward said in media interviews.

PetMD points out that, like people, pets that are overweight are at higher risk of developing a number of residual health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and cancerous tumors. So if you are struggling with a portly pup or pussycat, it’s time to reevaluate and make significant changes to their diets.

Both dogs and cats require foods that are free of grains and glutens and are high in meat protein. Also limit and, if possible, completely eliminate kibble (dry foods) from their diets. These tend to be higher in carbs and lower in nutrients and moisture, due to the heat processing they undergo during production. It’s far better to feed cats and dogs high quality wet foods.

For treats, switch to healthy people foods such as roasted poultry without the skin, lightly sautéed meats, small amounts of veggies such as carrots and sweet potatoes, and eggs.

2.) Get More Exercise

In today’s hectic society, it’s hard for both people and their pets to find time to exercise. After a hard day’s work, many people merely take their dogs out for a quick walk so that they can do their bathroom business. Or they just let them out into a fenced yard. As cats don’t require walking, they tend to get even less exercise.

So the next time you take your pups for a walk, don’t just rush back home after they do their potty business. Instead, weather permitting, carve out some time to take a longer, brisk stroll. Or go to a local doggie park where your pooch can play with other dogs. You and your pup could also have a game of toss the ball in your yard or the nearest park.

Cats are trickier when it comes to motivating them to exercise. Thus, you could invest in some interactive toys designed to get kitties moving. Toys that imitate prey such as electronic motion toys, safety approved laser lights and wand toys are great choices. In addition, you might set aside some time each day to get down on the floor and play with your kitties. Not only is this good exercise, it’s a great bonding experience.

3.) Monitor Your Pets’ Dental Health

While easy to overlook, good oral health and hygiene are crucial to a pet’s overall well-being. As I pointed out in my article Pet Dental Health Tips, poor oral health can result in such issues as excessive tartar, plaque, periodontal disease and gingivitis, all of which can lead to other health issues in pets.

So be sure that your veterinarian conducts a thorough oral exam on your pets during their regular checkups. Regularly brushing your pets’ teeth is great for maintaining their dental health. Using Clean Teeth from Epic Pet Health is a highly effective way to ensure that their choppers are in tip top shape, with or without brushing.

This easy-to-use, all-natural pet supplement contains ionized water, alkaline minerals and electrolytes. All you have to do is spray in your pet’s food or water once daily to maintain good dental health, or three times daily to improve dental health and reduce tartar. The Clean Teeth supplement reduces dental tartar, treats bad breath and promotes healthy teeth and gums, for a lifetime of optimal pet dental health.

4.) Quit Smoking

Resolving to quit smoking in the New Year will not only benefit the health of humans, pet owners who kick the habit can significantly reduce potential health issues for their dogs and cats. Indeed, numerous studies indicate that pet parents who smoke run the risk of seriously damaging the health of their pets.

A 2007 University of Minnesota study concluded that cats who live with smokers have nicotine and other toxins in their urine. A 2007 Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine study linked second-hand smoke to oral cancer in cats. Smoking has also been linked to nasal tumors in dogs.

So if you need another really good reason to kick those butts to the curb, the health of your pets should give you an extra added incentive.

5.) Take the Time to Show Love and Gratitude to Your Pets

Routine everyday life can become so hectic, harried and stressful that many people operate on auto pilot. Thus, it’s easy to take those we love for granted, including our pets. So may we all resolve to routinely spend quality time lavishing affection and attention on our pets. They give us so much unconditional love and expect nothing in return. They deserve all of the love and happiness in the world.

Epic Pet Health wishes you and your pets a “furry” happy, healthy New Year!