Many people make New Year’s resolutions to incorporate healthy changes into their lives. Pet owners can also resolve to start new habits to make 2020 their pets’ happiest, healthiest year yet.

1. Start the year off right at the vet. Kick off the year by getting up to date on your wellness exams, a fresh stock of monthly parasite preventive or an appointment for the spay/neuter surgery you’ve been meaning to book.

2. Update microchips and I.D. tags. Outdated information on I.D. tags and microchips makes it hard, or even impossible, to reunite lost pets with their owners. Check the information on file with your pet’s microchip and look at the number on their I.D. tag. Get a microchip if your pet doesn’t yet have one.

3. Exercise with your pet. Not only is it good for your health, but a daily walk or other activity together also strengthens the bond between you and your pet. Join in on local walking events with your dog.

4. Teach your pet a new trick. Learning a new trick and practicing old ones are great mental stimulation for your pet’s cognitive health. This mental exercise is especially beneficial for senior pets to help keep their brains active.

5. Measure your pet’s food. Many owners “eyeball” or estimate how much food they are giving their pet, which can lead to overfeeding and weight gain. Overweight animals can face health issues like diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and cancer. Use a measuring cup to make sure your pet is getting the recommended amount of daily food.

Richard Hurt, DVM, DACVS is a board-certified surgeon who began at SPCA Tampa Bay Veterinary Center in November 2019. His specialty is orthopedic surgeries including hip and joint procedures. He is passionate about providing pain-relieving solutions for pets.