Can you believe that it's another brand new year! For many of us, a New Year signifies a time of new beginnings and ambitious goal-setting. As a proud pet parent, who is always looking out for the health of your fur baby, you may have written down some new years resolutions to keep your pet happy and healthy, but this time we’re focusing on you!
After all, a happy pet requires a happy, healthy owner!
Let’s start this New Year with a new perspective and a goal to live life to the fullest! And who better to inspire us than our own pet? Our dogs and cats are the best examples of how to live a great life. So, what can our pets teach us to ensure a rocking year ahead?
Every year, exercising more makes it to the top of our new year resolution list. We always talk about enrolling in the gym or taking yoga classes, and we always have good intentions, but we either don't end up actually doing it or by February we quit.
But when it comes to looking after our pets, we always make time for them - and it is just as important for us to make time to care for ourselves.
When we take dogs, or even cats out for a walk, we are always there along side them - a friend or companion keeping them company. Perhaps we also need a friend to join us at the gym to keep us company and hold us accountable. Sharing the experience also makes it more fun.
And speaking of fun ... we would all agree that when our pets run around, they sure are having fun. That’s because our furry friends give that activity their all - whether it is going for walks or jumping or playing with their favorite toy; they truly enjoy it. And so should we!
So without any further ado, take out your sports shoes from the closet and find an exercise that interests you! Perhaps it’s enrolling in a dance class, taking swimming lessons, cycling, hiking, kayaking, running, or even just committing to walking more. Pick whatever activity you truly love to do. Where possible, invite a friend to join you; and don’t forget to take along your excited four-legged pal for that extra motivation.
When we play a game of fetch or tug-of-war with our companions, we often applaud them on their concentration. They have an amazing ability to focus on any activity: catching a ball, chasing a laser, chewing a toy, etc. You might start to wonder, why can't I focus on my goals with the same enthusiasm? But of course, they know what’s in store for them! Your pet knows that if they perform the task well, they'll get a treat or some cuddles.
Therefore, we need to do the same when it comes to us!
Whatever your goal is for this year - write it down and keep it in front of you, put a picture of it on a vision board, visualize yourself getting it, and keep reminding yourself of it and why you want it. If it's a long-term goal, plan for small rewards along the way to keep you motivated. Above all, give it your best, seize the opportunity, and celebrate your wins (no matter how small)!
The best lesson I’ve learned from my dog is how easily and quickly he bonds with everyone, regardless of their age, breed or size. He just needs a little bit of time to sniff around and familiarize himself with a person or a new four-legged pal and then there is no stopping him. A few minutes in and it’s a beginning of a new long lasting friendship!
With all the restrictions on social gatherings that have been put upon us, even the most social people may have found getting in touch with people difficult. However, with the help of new technology such as Zoom video calls, and a little old-fashioned inventiveness (when was the last time you sent a friend an actual letter or postcard) you can still find ways to stay in touch.
So go ahead and challenge yourself to reach out and make new friends. We are complex individuals, and having a variety of people in our lives helps us express different aspects of ourselves. Some friends you meet at the park with your pets, others you'll find you can turn to for support, and some are friends you work with on a team or a volunteer project. Plus, connecting with people that inspire you can help you both learn from each other.
Whether in person or across the world, don't be afraid to reach out to another person and share a bit of yourself. You never know when you’ll find a new buddy for life that will support you and help you live your best self.
Pets are a perfect example of living in the present! There will always be lots to worry about - bills, work, family, health, and much more - which are all important. But the most important thing is to try not to take life so seriously! Our pets don’t have a care in the world, and they always seem at peace.
Remember, "worrying does not take away tomorrow's troubles, it takes away today's peace".
This year, ask yourself some hard-hitting questions like:
Nobody can see what the future holds - the one thing you can do is choose what to focus on now. Be mindful and aware of what's going on in the present (as a suggestion, consider starting a gratitude journal or doing meditative exercises), but most importantly, direct your focus outwards.
Don’t you see your pup or kitty in pure bliss when you are stroking their neck, patting their back or giving them chicken for dinner? Similarly, take pleasure in small things. Life is precious. Enjoy the moment!
Yes, this is easier said than done especially in the age of social media. It’s so much easier now to stop living for ourselves and become caught up in what others think about us. Grab a couple pages out of your pet’s book and try to do what makes you happy, not what makes you look good.
If you've ever seen a silly cat or dog video, you know that your playful pet doesn’t care what people or other animals think of them - they're just having fun.
Like them, let this year be more about you! Reading this blog is already a great start. Learn to do what makes you happy and work on discovering and expressing yourself.
It’s undeniable; dogs and cats sleep when they’re tired, and even when they're not!
Like them, you should also rest when you’re tired in order to avoid over-exhaustion. You may not sleep 50% of the day like they do, but it’s important to get your zzz’s in, or even take a cat nap once in a while.
Being sleep deprived or stressed impacts your mental and physical health and overall fitness. To help you fall asleep faster and feel more relaxed at night, create a night time routine for pet cuddles; it’s guaranteed to put you in a relaxed mood. Spending some quality time with your pet not only lowers your blood pressure and cortisol levels which lower your stress, but it also releases serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin - known as the "cuddle hormone" because it's what helps mothers bond with their babies.
So go ahead, cuddle up to your four-legged pal. Not only will they love it, but it will relax your mind and body so you can all get that good night’s rest.
Water is life! Our pets cannot live without water just like humans. It’s essential for digesting food, absorbing nutrients, regulating body temperatures and ensuring every organ is functioning well.
Once you’ve provided your pet with water in their bowls, they will instinctively drink the recommended amount of water required for their age, size and activity levels.
Here’s a big question for you: have you been drinking the right amount of water your body needs? Unlike pets that automatically regulate their water intake, we humans tend to ignore our body's natural hydration requirements and only drink water when we are extremely thirsty or when we are eating. This is usually not enough.
Then when you hear that people need to drink 8-10 glasses of water a day, you probably wonder "how will I ever get myself to drink that much?"
Here is where your pets can come to the rescue. Let your pet be your prompt! Keep a big jug of water next to you and each time you see your pup or kitty taking a sip of water, you should too! Do this also before and after you take them for a walk and before you know it, you'll have finished off that jug in no time.
Are you sometimes stuck in a tricky situation or feel like you don’t know which way to go? Take a walk with your dog and let them take the lead. Be present.
Try to pay attention to the things they notice and you may discover something you never paid attention to, but that was there all along.
Stop and smell the air, close your eyes and try to perceive the world only with your ears, or go barefoot and feel the earth beneath you. All of these will use your senses differently then usual and may just let you explore your world in a whole new way.
Or take a lesson from a cat and simply flip your head upside down. Voila!
Doesn’t that prompt you to look at the situation from another angle?
If pets teach us one thing in life, it’s how to love others unconditionally. From happy greetings at the door when you come inside to sitting up close without any demands; the outward display of their love for you is always a total mood changer.
Especially if you're in lockdown or you can only see your friends and family through Zoom, showing others you love them will strengthen your bond. Don't take your close relationships for granted - let people know how much they mean to you.
The world could be a much better place if people loved each other the way animals do! You’ve got 365 days of the year to share your love. Do it unconditionally and passionately like your pals do.
It’s rightly said, “Health is Wealth!”
As a responsible pet parent, you understand the importance of scheduling appointments yearly to ensure your dog or cat is in their best state of health. Physical exams and blood work ensure that any serious issues can be attended to in a timely manner.
The same way you would schedule a doctor’s appointment for your pet, you should be doing the same for yourself. In the year ahead, pledge to look after your own health - and that includes going for those annual check-ups! It’s important for long term health for you and your pet.
There is no question that the bond between humans and animals is strong and amazing.
Let us make this year count for you and your pet.