George and Penny Blackstone have a snuggle.
Elaine’s Grand-dog, Carl is ready for his walk!
It’s that time when we start anew, with resolutions for the year to come. I’m not a huge fan of resolutions, because I’ve never been able to keep them. But, this year I thought of a way I can make a few for my dogs, and benefit in the process. If you’re like me, you’re more willing to do things for your pets, than for yourself. I’ve come up with a few resolutions we commonly make for ourselves, and made them for Pet Parents.
So, are you ready?
Here we go!
Be more prepared.
You’ve got emergency supplies in the trunk of your car, in case of emergency, right? (Right?!) Each year we get asked to update our information for insurance policies, health policies, and more. So, why not do the same for your pets?
I am a firm believer in having an Emergency Kit for my pets; a grab-and-go tote (a Paws-a-bilities one, of course since I make them), filled with everything my pets need in the event we have a crisis. Here’s what I put in mine, and why:
Pet first aid kit: If something happens to your pet, call your veterinarian! Having a first aid kit on hand, can help stabilize your pet, but a vet is always your first - and best - source of aid.
If you have a people first aid kit, a lot of the items in there will work for your pet. However, there are a few differences in a pet-friendly version that are tailored to animals’ medical needs. For example, did you know that human band-aids shouldn’t be used on pets? There are many out there available for purchase, and they range in price from a few dollars, to hundreds of dollars. You can make your own, of course, and there’s a really handy brochure from the American Veterinary Medical Association that you can download, which includes a first aid kit checklist.
You can find it here:
Pet information: I use a sealable, waterproof bag to hold my pet’s current information; insurance forms (we’ll cover pet insurance later), current pics of my pets, microchip information, contact information, vet contact and medical info (a copy of rabies certificate, copy of shot records, etc). These are inexpensive, but handy to have. You can find them at Amazon (of course) for around six bucks.
Leash: For obvious reasons
Blanket: To help keep your pet warm, but also to use to wrap your pet up in order to secure her if you can’t get her in a travel crate.
Travel bowls: For water and food.
Food: Enough for a couple of days for each pet.
Medications: Enough for a couple of days for each pet.
Lint roller: For easy cleanup of fur when it gets all over you, and your car. Because you know it will, and it can give you something to do while you’re waiting at the vet’s office.
Schedule Annual Exam:
This is an important one. We go to the doctor at least once a year for our annual check-ups, but when was the last time you took Fido?
“I wish I’d see more people doing annual exams,” says Brian Marshall DVM MS. “Not bringing your dog in to the vet for three years is like a human not going to the doctor for 20.”
Can you imagine?
Pet insurance companies generally cover annual exams, and shots. Nationwide offers several plans (formerly Veterinary Pet Insurance) to help cover costs, and some include coverage for emergencies, surgeries, and even cancer. My dogs have better health coverage than I do. Seriously. You can find more information here:
So, schedule that appointment. Get your pet’s shots current. Make sure there aren’t any issues, so that your pets have a healthy new year.
Getting more exercise is always on my resolution list, so why not do the same for your dog? Take a walk!
It will benefit you, and your pet! Walking your dog can help lower your blood pressure, and even relieve stress.
The Bark reminds us that dogs don’t care if it’s raining outside, or cold. They don’t give you an excuse to skip a walk! In fact, dogs are “great personal trainers!” You can read their article on the health benefits of walking your dog here:
Of course, if it’s a blizzard out there, or the temperatures are dangerously low, don’t go for a walk. We’re seeing pretty harsh winter conditions, and in some cases, more ice and snow than ever. If it’s safe to go for that walk, our vet friend, Brian Marshall reminds us that ice is really hard on dogs’ paws. “I see several ice cuts on feet every winter.” He says, “If they aren’t already toughened up, conditioning the pads with a product like Tuff Pad can help.”
Another suggestion is to put boots on your dog. You may scoff at the idea, but it really does help. They may walk funny, but their paws are protected! This is me walking my beloved beagle, Joey a few years ago in Denver:
This is probably the number one resolution I see every year. We start thinking about losing that winter weight, and wanting to have a healthy new year. If your vet tells you your fur baby needs to lose weight, then talk about how to safely to that. One thing I’m doing, is phasing out ‘junk food’ treats for my pups. I had a friend say that his vet told him feeding your dog cheap treats is like giving them a snickers bar. If you feed your dog even one treat a day, think of all the calories that adds up to! Yikes!
I’ve begun making my own dog treats. I have been doing a lot of research, and developed some really inexpensive, and yummy treats for my pups that they love. Here’s a recipe for you to try:
Chicka-paws: These easy peasy ice treats are a favorite here. I get a kick out of the paw ice cube trays, but any ice cube tray will work. You don’t need to buy a special one. Here’s how I make them:
5oz. frozen peas and carrots (I like to use organic)
Low-sodium chicken broth
Pour 1/2tbsp good olive oil into a non-stick pan. Add frozen peas and carrots, and cook under medium heat until just cooked, about 3-4 minutes.
Spoon a tsp of veggies into ice cube trays. Pour chicken broth over top until almost filled.
(If you’re using silicone trays, place them on a sheet pan for easier transfer. Trust me on this. I spilled a bunch of chicken broth in my freezer the first time I made these.)
Once frozen, pop one out for your pups – and kitties!
If you have any questions regarding ingredients, contact your vet. They’ll be able to tell you if they’re ok to give your pet.
We all want a year filled with less stress. Did you know that pets get stressed too? Pets respond to our emotions, and the more stressed we are, the more anxious they get.
One way to ease their stress, and yours, is to have a snuggle. A soft snuggle can help reduce your stress, and give you both a sense of calm. But if you don’t snuggle your pet often, or if your pet doesn’t like it, don’t do it. Some can feel trapped or confined and some animals simply don’t like to be touched often. Don’t force a snuggle - ever. Use your intimate knowledge of your pet’s likes and dislikes to find ways to communicate and have contact that benefits you both.
PetMD offers signs of stress in dogs, and ways to relieve it:
Wishing you and your pet a healthy, happy new year!
See you next month!
Jo Blackstone is the owner of Paws-a-bilities, a journalist, and proud DogMama.
Brian Marshall DVM MS is the owner of Bakers Bridge Vet Clinic, in Durango, CO.