2020 is our year of focusing on health education for our pets.

Dr. Larry Mangum

Veterinarian

Appalachian Animal Hospital

January is a time for resolutions and while many people make resolutions to get healthier in the new year, January is a perfect time to resolve to help your pet get healthier as well.

Just like humans, pets need a combination of physical activity and caloric moderation to maintain healthy weights. Daily caloric needs for indoor cats range from 180 to 200 calories per day. The larger a dog is, the more calories it needs.

When resolving to help your pet be healthier in the new year, it’s important to have a full understanding of what an optimum weight and lifestyle look like for your pet. Pet owners should work with their veterinarians to map out a diet and exercise regimen that can help their pets reach or maintain a healthier lifestyle.

Just like in humans, it’s important that your pet maintain a healthy weight. Studies have found that overweight pets may live two years less than ideal weight pets. Reduced life span is not the only problem, as carrying extra pounds can contribute to various maladies. These include osteoarthritis and poor joint health, type 2 diabetes, ligament injuries, heart and respiratory disease, kidney disease, and cancer.

One resolution that could help you and your pet is to go for a daily walk. First of all, the socialization provided by walking together helps increase your bond and will help younger dogs learn how to behave correctly in situations where they encounter other dogs, pets or people.

In addition, dogs who are let out in the backyard each night but are not played with may not be getting the exercise their owners think they are. Dogs left alone in a backyard may briefly run around before plopping down in the grass and enjoying the fresh air. That’s not enough exercise for many breeds, and it’s certainly insufficient for dogs who may be overweight or obese. Nightly walks can help dogs lose and/or maintain healthy weights, as well as help dogs build strength and endurance.