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New Year's Resolutions to Make for Your Dog

dog walking on leash in a cross walk

By now you may have made your New Year's resolutions. But have you made resolutions that will help make your dog happier and healthier in the year to come? Here are a few easy-to-keep resolutions that will get the year off to a great start.

Healthier diet: You know how you feel after eating the wrong foods: the feelings can range from guilty (at the least), to bloated, uncomfortable, and worse. If you feed your dog ""junk food"" or a low-quality diet he may not feel guilty, but it could upset his digestive tract and impact his overall long-term health. So, play it safe and make sure you keep him on a healthy diet consisting of food that provides all necessary nutrients for his stage of life. PEDIGREE® Food for Dogs, for example, has a wide variety of high quality, delicious recipes that are nutritionally complete. You’ll find varieties to help support different areas, such as skin and coat, hip and joint, and weight

More exercise: Has your dog's lifestyle been on the lazy side? Does he spend more time lying around than running about? It's up to you to get him out and about and active again. The dog park is calling—and it's saying, ""Pay me a visit and run, jump, catch, fetch, frolic, and play."" And if the weather is cold or rainy, find your dog's favorite toys and engage him in a nice indoor play session. Not sure how active your dog should be at his life stage? Ask your vet for some advice and guidelines.

Wellness checkups: When was the last time your dog visited the vet's office for a regular health examination? These exams are essential. Even if your dog seems well, your vet can identify conditions in their early stages and suggest appropriate treatment. So, if your dog hasn't been to the vet lately for a wellness checkup, make an appointment now.

Better oral care: Did you know that four out of five dogs over the age of three may develop gum disease?* Most people don't realize the connection between gum disease and general overall health. Studies indicate that the bacteria associated with gum disease may also impact heart, kidney, and liver health. So, check your dog's mouth for these telltale signs of gum disease: constant bad breath, red, swollen gums, and difficulty chewing hard food. If you notice these symptoms, tell your vet immediately. Your vet will help you develop a daily oral care routine for your dog.

To help keep your dog healthy, you can feed him PEDIGREE® DENTASTIX™ treats every day. This treat has a unique texture that is clinically proven to reduce plaque and tartar buildup—a contributor to gum disease—when used as part of a daily oral care routine.

If you haven't already noticed, these New Year's resolutions for your dog are also ones you could make for yourself: eat better, get more exercise, and see your doctor and dentist regularly. After all, wellness is for everyone in your family, whether they have two legs or four.

*American Veterinary Medical Association

  • The Serious Benefits of Play

    dog carrying a frisbee in its mouth

    Playing and having fun helps to eliminate stress from your life—and the same holds true for your dog. In fact, incorporating various forms of play into your dog's daily routine is vital to helping him develop a healthy, loving personality.

    The benefits of play

    Here are some of the ways that playing and having fun is important:

    • Physical health. Active play helps keep your dog's heart healthy, keeps the joints lubricated, and improves his overall balance and coordination.
    • Mental health. Games with rules force your dog to use his brain, not just his body. This can help keep his mind sharp and focused.
    • Social skills. When your dog plays with other dogs and other people, it helps improve his overall social skills. He learns basic rules and how to play by them.
    • Bonding. Even if it's only for a few minutes a day, playing with your dog helps strengthen the bond between you.
    • Your health. What better way to alleviate the stress of a busy workday and get a bit of exercise than to come home and play with your dog? It's a win-win for both of you.

    How to play with your dog

    There are right ways—and wrong ways—to play. The most important thing to remember is that you're the boss. You decide what games should be played and you set the rules. This helps establish your credibility as the pack leader. It also helps keep your dog from getting overly excited and out of control while you play. If your dog does become difficult to manage, simply put a stop to the game until he calms down again.

    When you're teaching your dog a new game, reward him when he does well. Remember, rewards don't have to be just treats. You can also reward him with his favorite toys or lots of hugs and praise.

    When you start out teaching your dog a new game, keep it simple and go through the game slowly, until your dog fully grasps the rules. Also, wait until he fully understands one game before you teach him a new one, otherwise it will end up confusing him.

    Playtime tips

    • Avoid games like keep away, wrestling, or tug-of-war. Those games encourage biting or dominant, aggressive behavior.
    • Stay in control of the game at all times. Show your dog that you're the pack leader, not just another member of the pack. Retrieval games are good at teaching control.
    • Don't include your body or clothing as part of any game.
    • Incorporate the SIT or DOWN and STAY commands in every game.
    • You decide when it's time to end the game, not your dog. The best time to stop the game is when your dog is still eager to play.
    • If, for some reason, your dog doesn't seem to understand the game at some point, go back to the beginning, or simply leave it and try again a few days later. Don't get angry if you're dog isn't "getting it" right away. Remember it's supposed to be a fun experience for both of you!

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