New Years Resolutions for a Healthier Dog: A Month-By-Month Guide

Photo Credit: Flicker CC, DaPugletWith the New Year rapidly approaching, now is the perfect time to begin thinking about New Year’s Resolutions. This year, how about getting your dogs in on the act? Resolve to make their lives happier and healthier with assistance from the month-by-month guide below. Have a look and feel free to revise according to what best suits you and your pups.

January: Schedule a veterinary visit, even if your dog isn’t due for any vaccinations. An annual visit includes a thorough physical examination- important because, the sooner a problem is discovered the greater the likelihood for a good outcome. An annual veterinary visit also provides the opportunity to discuss your dog’s nutrition, parasite control, behavior, and any other topics that are on your mind.

February: Take some whole body photos of your dog. It’s fun to share them on Instagram and Facebook, and, if the unthinkable ever happens and your pup goes missing, you’ll be able to post current images to facilitate a safe return.

March: With the weather starting to warm up a bit, now is a great time to begin a dog-walking regimen. Get out at least once or twice daily and gradually build up your distance. This will be fantastic for your dog’s health and for yours as well.

April: This is National Heartworm Prevention month. Make sure your dog has been tested for heartworm disease (a simple blood test that is recommended annually) and that you are giving heartworm preventive medication exactly as prescribed.

May: This is “Chip Your Pet Month.” If your dog hasn’t been microchipped, make this a priority. If your pup is already microchipped, double-check that your current contact information is updated with the microchip registry.

June: Did you know that there is an actual “Take Your Dog To Work Day?” It happens this month! What a great way to spend quality time with your best bud and enjoy interacting with your coworkers in a new and different way.

July: Assemble a list of emergency contact information that is in or near your phone at all times. Include numbers for the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline, your family veterinary clinic, a local 24-hour emergency hospital, and people who can, spur of the moment, responsibly care for your dog.

August: Make a habit of grooming your dog or at least running your hands over every square inch of fur on a regular basis. Not only will this provide some bonding time, it will also enable early detection of fleas, ticks, skin diseases, and any newly forming lumps and bumps.

September: Commit to brushing your dog’s teeth on a regular basis (at least three times a week) and then stick with this game plan. Don’t know how? Get some help from your veterinarian.

October: Be prepared for National Pet Obesity Awareness Day. Is your dog too lean, too heavy, or just right? Do you know your dog’s body condition score? Check in with your veterinarian to help assess if your dog is at a healthy weight. If needed, get some advice on creating a healthy weight loss program.

November: Set up a pet trust. No fun to think about, but should you become incapacitated or pass away, a trust will ensure that your dog will be well cared for.

December: Prepare emergency evacuation supplies for your dog. Be sure to include a two-week supply of food and water (include a can opener if needed), food and water dishes, your dog’s favorite treats, a collar or harness with ID tags, a leash, a carrier (particularly if your dog is small), a favorite blanket or bed, a copy of your dog’s medical records, a month supply of any medications, a first-aid kit, and recent photos of your dog.

What resolutions have you made for your pets for the new year?

Wishing you and your loved ones a happy and healthy new year,

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health.   There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at,, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

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