Top 10 New Year’s resolutions for keeping your dog healthy and happy in the new year and beyond.

Another year has gone by, and it’s time to start a new page in your life – and your dog’s. Among the New Year’s resolutions, you might make for this year, be sure to include your best friend’s well being among them. The following ten resolutions are designed to help you do as much as possible to ensure your dog will have a long and “naturally” healthy life. This year, I resolve to….

1. Find a veterinarian who listens to me and doesn’t rush through the visit.

Formulating a proper diagnosis and treatment requires time, and is only possible if I relay critical information to the doctor. I will find a doctor who resolves to spend time with me, carefully examining my dog and listening to and answering my questions and concerns. I don’t want to go to a doctor who routinely rushes through appointments and considers me just another of the many clients he will see that day.

2. Realize that I must also do my part at appointments.

I will be on time for my appointments, and not let myself get into a time crunch where I have to rush the doctor and his staff because I have other appointments to get to. I also resolve to make the appointment as valuable as possible by bringing along a list of concerns and questions to discuss with the doctor. If this is a referral appointment for a second opinion, I will also bring copies of medical records, lab tests, and all medications and supplements my dog is taking.

3. Allow the veterinarian to get a proper diagnosis.

The doctor needs to know exactly what is wrong with my dog before he can be properly treated. I will authorize any necessary testing or treatment in order to help my dog, and won’t cut corners since doing so could jeopardize his health. I will also ask for a second opinion if necessary. Even the best doctor doesn’t know everything, and sometimes two or more heads need to confer to help my dog get better. The sooner my dog receives the proper care, the greater the chance for a successful recovery, and the less that care will ultimately cost.

4. Feed my dog the best possible diet.

A high-quality diet is the foundation of a preventive health care program. When possible, I will prepare food at home for my dog, either cooked or raw, following my veterinarian’s advice on feeding the best diet. If I choose to feed a prepared diet, I’ll learn to read pet food labels and avoid products containing bad ingredients like by-products and chemicals. I won’t feed my dog whatever popular diet is being promoted by the big pet food companies. Finally, I won’t overfeed my dog. Obesity is a condition that is manmade; no dog is born obese. Since obesity is the most common nutritional disease and leads to increased health care costs and increased incidence of diseases, I will prevent it by properly feeding my dog.

5. Say “no” to drugs for my dog whenever possible.

Most conditions can be treated with natural therapies such as herbs, homeopathics, acupuncture, cold laser, nutritional supplements, and chiropractic. If drugs are needed, I will use the lowest dose possible for the shortest period needed to cure my dog’s condition and will insist that he be monitored for drug-related side effects.

6. Not ignore potentially serious problems.

If the doctor hears a heart murmur during an exam, for example, I will pursue treatment for heart disease. Heart murmurs always indicate the need for further investigation. Dirty infected teeth should be cleaned as soon as possible to prevent further pain, infection, and inflammation. Tumors should be evaluated or removed: I won’t watch cancer grow and spread.

7. Practice preventive medicine.

I will insist upon an annual exam and blood tests, and semi-annual exams and blood tests once my dog reaches five years of age.

8. Accept the fact that most dogs do not need annual vaccinations.

I will only vaccinate my dog if and when needed as determined by the use of antibody titer blood tests. I will not vaccinate my dog if he is sick.

9. Understand that no dog is too old for proper care.

I pledge to treat my aging dog as proactively as I did when she was younger. Older dogs should not be ignored just because they are older. Older dogs can and should be safely anesthetized for procedures such as tumor removal and dental cleanings.

10. Continue my own education.

I will learn as much as possible about proper health for my dog, so I can be a partner in his care.

With these resolutions in place, you’ll ensure a truly happy and healthy New Year for your canine companion!