The ball drops, Auld Lang Syne pumps through the speakers, and champagne flows - the new year is an amazing worldwide celebration - one typically followed by promises of new resolutions and a refocusing on health and wellness. This year, why not bring your pets along on your New Year’s resolutions for better health? Kickstart the year with 4 super easy changes, and additional professional suggestions you can quickly incorporate into any lifestyle - adding some extra water, chewing for mental health and stimulation, increased oral care, and adding some play into your day!
Resolution 1: Increase water intake - Add water to food bowls
Dog’s natural sources of prey are made up from 60-65% water, so a few ounces in a bowl on the kitchen floor is probably not cutting it. Water is essential for good health in all animals. It aids in digestion, supports skin and coat health, lubricates joints, and so much more. If your dog typically eats dry kibble, you may notice immediately after eating they’ll drink down a full water bowl - this is because they’re missing the moisture IN their food!
Try adding water directly into your dog’s food bowl - add food, add water to hydrate about ⅓ of the kibble (this works great with canned, homecooked, or raw food as well!), and put the bowl down - no need to wait for it to get mushy! Chances are, you’ll start to see skin and coat improvement in under a week! Adding water is even more important throughout the winter months when indoor heat is on; if it dries your skin out, it will do the same to your dogs.
PRO LEVEL: Always offer non-municipal water, as fluoride is a common additive in water that has potential to be harmful to dogs. If you get your water from a well, be sure it’s always filtered.
Resolution 2: Let your dog chew! …And chew, and chew!
Chewing is a natural, instinctual behavior that offers a number of important benefits for your dog from cleaning teeth to relieving mild anxiety. Repetitive chewing has been shown to release serotonin and dopamine, the neurotransmitters responsible for happiness and contentment. It can also help beat boredom - think those dreary winter days when no one wants to go for a walk - a good chew session can actually tire your dog out sooner than physical exercise alone (that doesn’t negate the need for physical activity!). Chewing and its deep instinctual practice requires a great deal of your dog’s concentration - where should I chew this? What side of my teeth would work best? What’s the best way to eat this thing? This mental exercise will help wear your pet out as they chew.
PRO LEVEL: Always ensure your pet enjoys single or simple ingredient, natural chews like natural bully sticks or collagen sticks, and always place them in a safety device to prevent choking on or swallowing the last few inches, which can be an emergency situation.
Use a safety device to keep your dog safe while maximizing stress-relieving chew time!
Resolution 3: Update your oral care routine
Did you know that over 80% of dogs over the age of 3 have some form of periodontal disease? That’s a statistic that’s alarming for veterinarians, but seemingly overlooked by many pet owners. Just like with our teeth, without brushing, biofilm accumulates and becomes tartar, which is difficult to remove. Brushing removes this biofilm, reducing tartar buildup and simultaneously brushing away bacteria that’s directly related to cardiovascular disease, inflammation, and distant organ disease.
You may feel now that there’s absolutely no way your dog will allow teeth brushing, but it's surprisingly easy to train them to be desensitized to the process! Check out our blog post here that walks through simple steps to help up your dog’s oral care routine. Also be sure your dog toothbrush is designed for dogs, and ideally, with speed and efficacy in mind! Some dog toothbrushes are built with multiple heads at different angles to allow multiple sections to be brushed at the same time.
PRO LEVEL: Work with your dog to accept brushing, and work towards a daily 20-second brush. Why should your pearly whites get the only daily attention?
Resolution 4: Play play play!
That’s right - playtime is critical to a healthy pup! Veterinarians and dog professionals recommend aiming for 30 minutes of exercise as a daily minimum - be it a walk, playing fetch, or just playing inside the house on poor-weather days. For older or overweight dogs, try splitting those 30 minutes across a few daily play sessions. Add some variety into your play sessions - go for a hike, do an in-depth sniff session around the neighborhood, or pop a lifejacket on your pup and let them hit the water. Check out our blog post here for fun and unique ways to keep active in winter.
PRO LEVEL: Combining a physical activity like a walk with mental stimulation, like sniffing out toys or treats, will tire your dog out more quickly than just physical exercise alone! Invest in a sniffing toy, hide their favorite toys throughout the house or yard and go on a scavenger hunt for maximum impact!
A simple game of hide and treat can be a great way to add mental and physical exercise to your dog’s day!
Start the year off right with our Ulti-Mutt Bundle! This fetching bundle includes 100% natural bully and collagen sticks, a Bow Wow Buddy safety device sized for your pup, and our award-winning oral care kit for a happy, healthy new year!
About the Author: Johnna Devereaux is a Clinical Pet Nutritionist, canine wellness expert and the Chief Nutrition Officer for Bow Wow Labs. Johnna’s unique perspective and wealth of knowledge about dog nutrition and wellness empowers people to make educated decisions about their pet’s overall nutrition. She brings years of experience in holistic animal health to our Wellness Center.
The points of view expressed above are those of our Chief Nutrition Officer and supported by science, her education and experience. However, we recognize there may be different points of view or opinions on some aspect or even the premise of this article. Our goal at Bow Wow Labs is to provide the best, clearest, and most helpful information possible to help keep your dog happy, healthy and safe.