The Only Locally-Owned Emergency and Specialty Hospital in Minnesota

5 Ways to Improve Your Pet’s Health in the New Year

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We all want the best for our pets and with the new year beginning, it’s a great time to write down health goals for your pet. Here are a few ideas to consider to help improve your pet’s health this year!

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1. Treat Responsibly  

One of the biggest pet health concerns is obesity, which can contribute to many other diseases including Type 2 Diabetes, kidney disease, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, and heart disease. In the new year, help ensure your pet maintains a healthy weight by determining your pet’s daily calorie intake goal. Or, if your pet is already carrying a little extra, create a weight loss plan with your family veterinarian. Often, pet weight gain is due to calories from treats, so consider scaling back. Options include training treats which are much smaller, breaking large treats in half, or using a small portion of your pet’s daily kibble instead.  

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2. Exercise, Playtime, & Enrichment 

It’s important for your pet to get up and move – whether that means a walk outside or indoor activities like obstacle courses, running stairs, chasing a toy, or engaging in play with you. 

 In addition to physical exercise, your pet needs mental stimulation! For dogs and cats, puzzle toys are a great choice. A variety of pets can also enjoy food scavenger hunts or developing a new trick or skill. New toys, switching around enclosure items, playing videos that will peak your pet’s interest (such as bird videos for cats), and similar concepts are all great ways to provide stimulation! Check out this list of boredom busters for dogs here 

 Note: If your pet is recovering from surgery or has any physical limitations, follow your veterinarian’s instructions and guidelines for activities.  

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3. Pet-Proof 

Two of the most common emergencies we see in our ER are also two of the most preventable: pet toxins and the ingestion of something inedible, otherwise known as a foreign body ingestion. To help decrease your pet’s risk of consuming a toxic item or foreign body,  pet-proof your home! This means keeping toxic items like chocolate, xylitol gum, grapes, medications, toxic plants, antifreeze, and rodenticides out of your pet’s reach or out of your home altogether, as well as securing all trash cans! It also means cleaning and organizing your house to minimize your pet’s access to common foreign body culprits like yarn, socks, hair binders, kid toys, and similar items.  

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4. Regular Grooming & Cleaning 

Grooming, nail trimmings, daily dental care, cleaning up after them, and maintaining habitats/enclosures all play a role in your pet’s overall health – as well as yours! It’s also good to get in the habit of regularly deep cleaning or replacing items that get a lot of daily use, such as litter boxes, water and food dishes, bedding, toys, and similar items. 

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5. Regular Veterinary Visits  

No matter the pet, it’s important to have a relationship with a local primary care veterinarian by visiting every 6-12 months, depending on the type of pet and its healthcare needs. In addition to providing regular wellness exams, vaccinations, and thorough dental cleanings and dental x-rays, your family veterinarian will also become familiar with your pet’s behavior so they know exactly what you mean when you say, “Sparky just isn’t himself these past few days.” Your family veterinarian is a fount of knowledge – especially important if your pet has health concerns, ongoing pain, or a chronic disease. Your family veterinarian will also be able to refer you to trusted veterinary hospitals and specialists in the area if your pet ever requires emergency care or specialty services.  

For exotic pets, it can be trickier to determine when they aren’t feeling well, so be sure to discuss any emergency signs or symptoms not to ignore when it comes to your specific type of pet. 

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We hope you & your pets have a healthy new year! If you do have any concerns about your pet’s health, contact your family veterinarian. In some cases, it may be appropriate to ask about a referral to one of Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota’s board-certified veterinary specialists 

 Seeking veterinary care for your avian or exotic pet? All of our local veterinary partners who see small mammals are listed on our website: https://aercmn.com/about-us/locally-owned/

Need referral care for your avian or exotic pet? You can set up an appointment with our Avian & Exotic Medicine Service. Learn more here: https://aercmn.com/veterinary-services/avian-exotic-medicine 

Janine Hagen

Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota, Fast Track Triage, color-coded triage system, pet emergency, Twin Cities emergency vet, Minnesota emergency vet, Saint Paul emergency vet, Oakdale emergency vet


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