Did you know four out of five people who make resolutions break them by the end of January? The main reason for resolution failure is setting so many goals that trying to stick to them becomes arduous. A little trick that has worked for me (and my dog): Space your goals out to one per month!
Month by month, set a goal of something you will do with or for your dog, and then make it happen. At the end of 2013, you and your dog will have achieved 12 goals. Here’s a month-by-month goal calendar for you and your pooch:
Wednesday, Jan. 2, was National Pet Travel Safety Day, but even in retrospect it’s a good reminder to check items related to automobile travel. Ensure your dog’s tags are up to date, double check any harnesses or travel safety belts in your vehicle, and start planning for your next trip.
Though February is a shorter month, it is long on love. Set a goal to keep your dog’s heart healthy by scheduling a veterinary visit for a wellness check. With that checked off the list, get to keeping Fido fit! I recently wrote about rainy day games, which can be played year-round indoors.
National Poison Prevention Week occurs in March, so clean out those medicine cabinets, safely dispose of expired medications and treats, and ensure prying paws do not have access to cupboards or doors that house dangers behind them.
It’s National Pet First Aid Awareness Month! If you do not already have a “go to” home emergency kit and travel emergency kit, now’s the time to make them. Read our article on how to build your own first aid kit for dogs. An item I’ve recently added to my dog’s first aid kits is the Pet Clot single-use mesh pouch for bleeding emergencies.
There is a bevy of dog celebratory and awareness weeks and dates peppered throughout May, but perhaps one of the most important is National Dog Bite Prevention Week. (Speaking of teeth, you are brushing your dog’s teeth daily by now, right?) According to the ASPCA, 50 percent of all children in the United States will be bitten by a dog by the age of 12. If you have human children, teach them the dos and don’ts of approaching a dog, including when to pet a dog and how to do so.
Although this month celebrates National Take Your Dog to Work Day (June 22), set a goal to check your dog’s urine. I do this once a week with my dog. I use the Siemens Multistix, which tests for 10 different levels of things in my dog’s urine. If your dog battles urinary tract infections (UTIs), these strips can be a lifesaver for detecting levels such as pH and blood in urine. Collect the dog’s urine with a free catch in the morning when it is most concentrated, dip the stick in, follow the time recommendations (two minutes for most), and then compare against the colors on the bottle. Use these in conjunction with veterinary visits and to keep an eye on any levels that are cause for concern.
Do you have an escape plan that includes your dog if a fire were to occur in your residence? July 15 is National Pet Fire Safety Day. Firefighter Dayna Hilton and her fire safety dogs have made it their mission to save lives, reduce injuries, and decrease property loss from fire. Ensure you have a fire-escape route plan in place, check your smoke alarm batteries, and learn more by visiting the Sparkles the Fire Safety Dog blog.
August 26 is National Dog Day. The day was founded to celebrate shelter dogs. If your heart beats dog as mine does, take some time this month to give your dog some extra TLC (tender loving canine). Give your dog a tummy rub or pat down. Dogs are calmer, happier, and connect with us emotionally when we pet, massage, and rub them. Additionally, you’ll be aware if any concerning lumps or bumps develop.
Back to school time means back to basics. Set a goal to regularly examine your dog’s paws and pads, looking for any cuts, cracks, blisters, or lacerations. Keep hair between pads groomed and nails adequately trimmed by a qualified groomer.
It’s Adopt-a-Shelter Dog Month! But if you are unable to do so, there are many other ways to help shelter animals. When you shop at “give back” websites, companies provide money, food, and treats to shelter dogs. Also consider sponsoring a dog. I send $10 a month to a Cocker Spaniel rescue and foster group.
As remnant leaves scatter about the earth, ticks burrow beneath, waiting for the chance to leap onto your dog as a host. Do a flea and tick check and talk with your dog’s vet about year-round protection. I am never without a tick key on my keyring (and in my dog’s first aid kit) for those “just in case” moments.
But remember: Just because something is dubbed natural does not mean it is 100-percent safe. Always check with your vet prior to applying any product.
Life is short, dogs live in the moment, so celebrate and set a goal to make December a time of tradition.
If you made it this far with all the goals, congratulations! Don’t be afraid to rotate these goals and suggestions for year-round canine health.
Have you set any goals set for your dog in 2013? Let me know in the comments!