New year, new you? If you’ve been planning ways to improve your health in 2023, there may be one thing you’re forgetting — your pet. While you’re creating better habits for yourself, consider how to prioritize your four-legged friend’s health too. Your animals are relying on you to make healthy choices for them this year. Here are six tips for improving your health together.
1. Choose Fresh Foods
One of the most impactful things humans can do for their health is eat fresh foods. Avoiding processed ingredients can contribute positively to your overall well-being. Swapping an afternoon bag of chips for carrots and hummus can give you a much-needed energy boost. Clean ingredients can fuel your body with antioxidants to fight off common colds and viruses too.
Fresh dog food can also be a healthy swap for your furry friend because it provides vital nutrients and minerals. Dog foods are traditionally packed with fillers lacking healthy components. These ingredients range from meat by-products to plastic. Instead, invest in nutritious dog foods that contain whole ingredients like meats and veggies. A subscription-based dog food service can even help make feeding your dog healthy foods simple.
2. Exercise Together
Pets are a great way to keep yourself active. There are endless ways to get exercise with your animal. Try taking your cat for a backpack hike or running with your dog around the block. Raising your heart rates together will produce endorphins. Endorphins can trigger pain and stress relief, causing you and your pet to be healthier.
The Mayo Clinic suggests adults receive on average 30 minutes of exercise each day to combat obesity and cardiovascular disease. Similarly, the American Kennel Club argues that dogs’ lives can be prolonged through daily activity. If you’re taking an afternoon walk, bring your pup along with you. Exercising with your pet can keep you motivated and accountable too.
3. Create Routines
Have you been eyeing your favorite influencer’s perfect morning routine? It can be daunting to start new habits. Especially when you have an animal to care for. However, routines can be extremely beneficial to you and your pet. Clinicians at Northwestern Medicine share that simple routines can positively impact stress levels. Adding quality routines can even improve your sleep, eating habits, and activeness.
The AKC also argues that routines can strengthen your relationship with your pet. Puppies and kittens are notorious for succeeding in houses with well-established routines. Incorporating feeding, potty training, and even bedtime habits into your pet’s routine can provide you both with peace of mind. Frequent exercise, training, and grooming can create confidence and added comfortability for your pet as well.
4. Implement Supplements, as Needed
Both humans and pets can benefit from taking supplements when trying to get healthy. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) explains that not every individual needs supplements. However, there are some common nutrient deficiencies that most adults face. Ideally, you would fill gaps in your diet with food dense with nutrients you are lacking. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible.
When considering commonalities between your pet’s health and your own, think about what supplements your dog may benefit from. Nearly 43% of people in the U.S. are lacking vitamin D while 75% of dogs experience similar deficiencies. Maybe your pet has arthritis or allergies. Supplements addressing these issues can be great additions to your animal’s regime. However, be sure to check with your doctor and your pet’s vet, respectively, before starting anything new. Some supplements can counteract prescription medications.
5. Find a Shared Hobby
While it may sound silly to brainstorm hobbies with your pet, it can be a lot of fun. Humans need hobbies to decompress and relax. They encourage structure in your day and provide opportunities for connection. Try using your favorite pastime as an enrichment activity for your four-legged friend. Whether you’re artsy or into sports, there are endless activities that you and your canine can bond over.
If you’re an avid reader, try reading a chapter out loud to your wet-nosed audience. Or, grab a canvas, peanut butter, paint, and a Ziploc bag and create one of a kind artwork. If you and your pet live an active lifestyle, take a trip to a local agility course. Join a local dog park and meet new friends. Not only will this provide entertainment for you both. But, it will provide you with opportunities to strengthen your relationship with one another and maybe make new friends.
6. Schedule an Annual Check Up
Implementing many of these tips can provide great benefits to you. However, it’s important that you still visit your doctor for an annual check-up. Just like you, your pets need to visit their veterinarian. While your pet likely won’t be escorting you to your 10 a.m. appointment, they’ll be grateful you’re taking your health into your own hands. After all, they want you around as long as they’re around.
Taking your pet to their annual visits is equally as important. Because pets can’t speak their needs, it’s vital that they are being screened annually. Your animals will likely receive annual vaccinations. They’ll probably also have their eyes, teeth, and feces checked for illness or disease. Many issues your pet may face are easier to treat when caught early.
Implementing six new habits can be overwhelming. If you’re already doing some of these things for yourself, try adding your pet to the mix. Reach for frozen celery instead of a corn-syrup-filled treat for your pup. Grab yourself a healthy snack and enjoy them together. Take your cat on your next walk around the block. Dance with your dog in the living room. Have fun and be healthy with your pets in 2023!