It’s that time of year again when many of us start making New Year’s resolutions. After a tumultuous 2020, it may be more imperative than ever to strive for physical, mental, and emotional balance.
The good news is that there is someone who might be able to help you reach those goals who’s closer than you think: your dog or cat. That’s right, Fido and Fluffy can provide you with the motivation to get 2021 started on the right track.
Best Friends Animal Society, a leading animal welfare organization focused on making America a no-kill nation by 2025, offers five ways your pets can be the best resolution buddies. (Keeping in mind masks, leash laws, and social distancing should be observed whenever you’re in public. It’s also wise to research hours of operation for any destination before you visit.)
1. Start Moving
Do you have an active dog? Then you have a free personal trainer! Dogs love to get exercise and do it with such enthusiasm, they’re sure to make you smile as you head out the door. Walking at a vigorous pace for just 30 minutes, five times a week can provide the moderately intensive cardiovascular exercise most physicians recommend. (If you and your dog aren’t quite ready to hit that goal at the moment, try a 10-minute walk at your own pace and boost your time by five-minute increments each week).
Some cats even like to go for walks on a leash and harness or in a stroller. If you’re not sure how your own kitty would feel about it, do some research online to find the safest ways to introduce walking or strolling into your routine.
And if you really want to make those steps count, download Best Friends’ ResQWalk app. Sponsored by Front of the Pack, ResQWalk not only tracks your mileage, it allows people to raise money for animal rescues and shelters in the U.S. every time they go walking.
2. Ease stress
Of course, pets are adorable to look at and fun to hang out with...it turns out they’re also good for you! As research has shown, spending quality time with pets can lessen anxiety, lower blood pressure, and bolster your immune system—health benefits many of us can use.
How can you make the most of this natural stress relief? A daily fifteen-minute break with your cat or dog to meditate is a great start. Sit with your pet in a quiet, comfortable place, focus on being present, breathing deeply, and stroking your pet’s fur. Another option is to break out a yoga mat and do some poses with your cat or dog, which will not only ease stress, but also provides a gentle workout.
3. Eat better
Did your eating habits change in 2020? This year swap out fatty, sweet, or salty treats and start sharing some good-for-you snacks with your pet.
Dogs can eat raw sunflower or pumpkin seeds, plus produce like watermelon, blackberries, cranberries, blueberries, bananas, apple slices, and baby carrots (but no grapes or raisins, which can be toxic). Cats can get in on the fun, too. Felines can enjoy fish like salmon or mackerel, meats like plain boiled chicken, and even a bit of cheese or egg.
Just keep in mind that only 10 percent of a pet’s daily calories should come from treats. Your veterinarian can confirm which foods are appropriate for your pet.
4. Venture Out
If you’ve been stuck at home and can’t take one more day staring at four walls, leash up your dog (or a travel loving cat, if you’ve got one) and hit the road for a day trip. Many beaches, state parks, and local landmarks are still open for sightseeing, so find a spot that’s sure to boost you and your pet’s spirits.
5. Be Social
Socializing may seem oxymoronic during COVID-19, but there is a way to be amongst others safely. Get outside with your dog! They are natural ice breakers and you’re sure to meet like-minded people who want to share about their own pets. A game of fetch or frisbee at the local park can also be a fun, socially distant activity to enjoy with friends and family.
Wait...what? You don’t have a pet?
Well, there’s no better time than the new year to adopt a new best friend! By adopting, not only will you be saving a life, you’ll get a great deal, as most pets are also fixed, vaccinated, micro-chipped and ready to go home for just one low fee.
To get started, visit www.bestfriends.org and find a local shelter or rescue where your perfect pet is waiting.