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New Year Intentions with our pets in mind

It’s a brand new year- hurray!!

Everybody is setting New Year Resolutions- and more often than not, they end up being abandoned after the first few weeks (at least, that’s what used to happen to mine).

A while back, I went to an exercise class that would always get incredibly busy in January- only to shrink back to normal by February.

Resolutions feel so difficult and restrictive to me. That’s not how I want to start my year.

Instead, I love to reflect back, look at what I liked about the last year and what I didn’t, and how I want the new year to look.

As they say, if you don’t plan, you’ll probably go in circles.

When I’m looking ahead and setting my intentions for the New Year, of course I always include my pets- they are part of the family after all.

And this is not to add something else to your already bursting full to- do list, but rather to slow down, maybe sit down with a cup of tea and a cosy blanket, and to have a think about how we want the year ahead to look.

Here are some questions to ponder:

 

1. Did we spend enough time together, and was it quality time?

It’s so easy to get swept away by the busyness of life, and to just feed the pets and go on walks because that just what we do. Sometimes in our busy lives, these walks get shorter and shorter. And how often are we really present with our pets. How often do we walk whilst being on our phones? Or just walking on auto pilot without taking in much?

How often do we snuggle on the sofa, watching telly, without really acknowledging our friend next to us?

How often do we feed them and walk away, without noticing them much?

Of course, nobody sets out to do that, but I think at some point in our lives, we’ve all inadvertently ended up there.

Ideas for Intentions:

Can we go for more walks, longer walks or more interesting walks? Exploring new places together. Can I be more present during our walks, can I sometimes put my phone away and just watch and enjoy my dog?

When can I fit this into my day/ week, to make sure it actually happens? Maybe we can explore a new place each Sunday. Maybe we can set off a few minutes earlier for our morning walks, and really pay attention to the air, the bird song, and our companionship.

 

2. Is my pet as healthy as they can be?

When we see them every day, it’s so so easy to miss little changes in our pets’ health. We see the big, obvious ones, of course, like a sudden onset of lameness, or a skin issue etc. But what about those tiny changes, that are too small to notice their own, but that over time may lead to problems (and we wish we’d noticed it sooner).

Some questions to ask:

Are they still as mobile as ever?

Are they sleeping well? Or too well (much more than usual)?

Are they more tired after a walk?

Is their weight slowly creeping up (or are they loosing weight despite not being on a diet?)

Are they still eating with gusto?

Are they still playing and interacting as usual?

Do they move away when any particular body parts are touched?

Have they developed a smell?

Do they have rumbling tummies or break wind more?

Do they sometimes look uncomfortable for no apparent reason?

And something to do (and I would recommend you do this regularly, not just at the beginning of the year):

Check over their whole body. Eyes ears, mouth (and teeth), legs, feet and torso. Is anything different to their normal? Do they resent having any particular area touched?

Ideas for intentions:

My mantra for health is: There is always more that can be done.

If you feel that you pet’s health isn’t thriving, please get them checked out by your vet. And don’t hesitate to ask again, if you feel that the outcome still isn’t what you’d hoped for.
Some issues are easily fixed, others take a while. Sometimes you need several different treatment modalities, and sometimes you have to change it all up and start again. Sometimes you need a team of pet professionals to all work together towards the best possible health for you pet.

For example, you might want to have your GP vet, a specialist vet (or several), a physiotherapist, a chiropractor, a nutritionist and a behaviourist all giving their input into your pet’s health plan, and working together to get the best possible outcome.

The earlier a problem is noticed, the better the chances of fixing it. Likewise, the more thorough the approach, the more likely you’ll get the outcome you want.

You don’t always need a vet either. There are many things you can do yourself:

Ensure your pet’s bed is comfortable and suitable.
Check that they can easily get in and out of the house.
Make sure cats can access their litter trays easily.
Lift food and water bowls so they don’t have to bend down.
Try if they tolerate a different food better.

The list is endless.

The first step is to look and determine where there might be a problem. The next step is to see what can be done about it. And to get help when needed.

And I’ll repeat it, because I feel it’s so important:

There’s always more that can be done.

 

3. Is my pet as happy as they can be?

Another thing that often goes unnoticed, because it can change so slowly that it just becomes the new norm. Maybe we attribute it to age.
It’s worth checking in. There may well be an illness, or even boredom or stress that makes our pets more withdrawn.

Are they still eager to go for their walks? Or to bring their toys, or to eat their food?
Are they still coming to play as much as always, or are they becoming more withdrawn?
Are they sleeping all the time and not really interested as much in anything else?
Are they distracted or disruptive?

Ideas for intentions:

First, try to establish if it’s boredom, an illness, or something else. Then:

Spend more time playing. Find out what they enjoy the most and do more of that.
Do something completely different: find a dog training class- there are so many different ones out there, and something to suit every character and specific needs.
Go on different walks- explore somewhere new.
Engage their brain: teach them a new skill or get them a new toy that involves thinking.

Very often, pets that have lost their oomph for life, are in pain. They may not show it inn any other way. If in any doubt at all, please get this checked out by your vet.

 

In summary, New Years Intentions for our pets could look like this:

I intend to spend lots of quality time with my pets, be present with them and actively enjoy them, and this is when __________ and where _______ and how often ______ I’ll do this. (The clearer you are with your intentions, the more likely it’s going to happen!)

I will pay attention to small changes in my pet’s health, and I will address them, and aim for their health to flourish as best as is possible for them. I will start a diary for those niggling concerns I have and I will make an appointment with _________ to deal with __________.

I intend to ensure my pets are as happy as they can be, and neither bored nor withdrawn due to pain or stress, and this is the action I will take ______________.

Do you set New Year’s Intentions for your life with your pets?

 

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