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How to Make Sure You're Starting Your Pet's Year Off Right

written by Ellie Walker

There’s no better time to reassess your pet’s overall health and wellness than the start of a new year. We’ve put together a list of our best pet parent tips for 2023 to help make sure you’re starting your pet’s year off right.

Schedule their annual veterinary appointment

Pets are notoriously good at hiding signs of illness, so it’s not uncommon for pet parents to be unaware something is wrong until it becomes serious. This is why our best pet parent tip for 2023 is to schedule an annual vet appointment at the start of each year.

At these annual appointments, your veterinarian will:

  • Perform a physical examination

  • Update any vaccinations

  • Conduct annual blood work or other tests

Completing these on an annual basis will give your vet a good understanding of your pet’s baseline health, which will make it easier to see when something changes. After the age of seven, your vet will likely recommend coming in for these appointments every six months so they can more closely monitor changes as your pet enters its senior years.

Refresh your pet’s diet

If one of your pet parent goals for 2023 is to improve your pet’s diet, consider switching to fresh food. The food your pet eats plays a huge role in their health and there’s no better option than fresh. That’s because unlike kibble, which uses powdered meat, artificial colors, and preservatives, fresh pet food – like Freshpet – uses ingredients that are much closer to their natural state. By making the switch to Freshpet, your pet will benefit from recipes that are:

  • Made from 100% natural farm-raised proteins, fiber-packed garden veggies, and antioxidant-rich fruits

  • Gently steamed at lower temperatures to retain nutrients

  • Tailored to life stage, size, and special dietary requirements

For a full overview of the different Freshpet recipes, take a look at our product page for dogs and cats.

Encourage them to drink more water

Water is crucial to your pet’s overall health, helping to keep their body functionally normally. Most notably, water plays a role in:

  • Regulating their body temperature

  • Digestion

  • Nutrient absorption

  • Expelling waste and toxins

Unfortunately, making sure that your pet gets enough water can be an ongoing battle – especially for cat parents. The good news is that we know a number of tricks you can try to pique your pet’s interest in drinking water, including:

  • Adding a splash of flavor: If your pet isn’t interested in plain water, liquids such as carrot juice and sodium-free chicken broth or pieces of fruit are quick – and pet safe – ways to add a splash of flavor.

  • Use a water fountain: Cats, in particular, prefer to drink running water, so swapping their bowl for a water fountain that offers free-flowing water is enough to convince them to increase their water intake.

  • Offer it in ice form: Offering icy treats is another fun way to encourage them to “drink” – especially during the summer. Products like this Pupsicle maker make it easy for you to make icy treats at home so you always have them on hand.

Reassess their exercise routine

Dogs benefit greatly from having a regular exercise routine. Dogs that have the opportunity to exercise daily benefit from:

  • Lower blood pressure

  • Stronger muscles and bones

  • Decreased stressed

  • Less destructive behaviors

We know that finding the time to set an exercise schedule for your pet can feel daunting, especially for pet parents with busy schedules. This is why it’s a great idea to find a way for them to join activities you already do, such as running, hiking, or even long-distance walks.

But physical activity isn’t the only form of exercise that your pet should engage in – keeping their mind active is just as important! Keeping your pet’s mind busy can help curb feelings of boredom, stress, and anxiety – all of which can lead to destructive behaviors.

  • Use puzzle feeders: Puzzle feeders keep pets both mentally and physically engaged as they work out how to get to their food. They come in several different formats, such as bricks, balls, and snuffle mats, so you can see which your pet enjoys most.

  • Find toys they can play with independently: Toys that keep their mind busy are especially useful when your pet has to spend time alone. Similar to puzzle feeders, toys by brands such as Kong and Doc & Phoebe allow you to hide treats inside them and your pet will have to work out how to get them.

Improve their oral health

Over 80% of pets have some stage have dental disease, which, if left untreated, can contribute to oral pain, bad breath, and even unintended weight loss. So if you really want to make sure you’re starting your pet’s year off right, look for ways to improve their oral health.

  • Get the necessary supplies: There are many different types of toothbrushes, including those with multiple bristle heads, angled brushes, and even those that fit on your fingertips – choose the one that you’re most comfortable using. For toothpaste, look for products that are designed specifically for pets as they’re made with pet-safe ingredients and come in tasty flavors like beef and poultry.

  • Stick to a brushing schedule: In a perfect world, your pet’s teeth would be brushed twice a day. However, we know this is a hard ask so even twice a week is a great start!

  • Schedule dental check-ups: Just because your dog’s teeth appear normal doesn't necessarily mean that they are healthy – even if the visible part of the tooth is healthy it doesn’t mean the same can be said about the roots. Your vet will be able to perform dental radiographs to get a full picture of your pet’s oral health.

We hope that our list of best pet parent tips for 2023 helps you make sure you’re starting your pet’s year off right!

A person holding a black and white dog reaching for a Freshpet recipe.

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