As we embark on a New Year – and with the military always a new adventure – I think that it’s an important reminder that as we set resolutions for ourselves, we remember that we can also help our pets become a better version of themselves as well. What does a New Year’s resolution look like for a dog or cat, you ask? Well, maybe this is the year you hit up a few of the local state parks with Fido or find the perfect toy for Fluffy.

If the reason you’ve been keeping Fido from the State parks or even the dog parks is his or her figure there are ways to succeed in the weight department as well. I always recommend a visit with your Veterinarian when making diet changes for your four-legged friend. So, head to your local vet for a checkup and see what they recommend. Often, your veterinarian will be able to calculate the appropriate number of calories for Fido. Most of the time, dogs and cats are graded on a body weight scale out of 5. Now what is the secret to achieving that ideal 3/5, you ask? There are a lot of simple things you can do to ensure that Fido is beach-ready in no time. First off, measure your pet’s food. This sounds very simple, but when I say measure I mean actually ensure there is an exact amount. I know that we are all guilty of topping off the cup a little full… I mean, who can resist those Sarah McLaughlin puppy eyes? But when you want to ensure you have extra years with your pet, measuring matters. Extra weight can lead to joint issues, diabetes, and other health issues. So, when you measure, you need to measure like you’re making a cake for your best friend’s wedding. Yes, it’s that serious. Those extra calories really add up, especially on our smaller furry friends. Next, cut back on treats. I know, I know, insert puppy dog eyes, but the calories really all add up. Instead of giving your pet a whole treat, cut it up or even give them a piece of their dog food. It’s more exciting if you put it in a special jar but it really will do the trick. Third, add more playtime and/or walks. Your furry friend will not complain about this – well, if they’re a cat they might, but most of them will also learn to love it as well. With dogs, this tends to be a little easier with walks and fetch but there are a lot of great toys out there for cats, too. We have found that our cats love the “Cat Dancer” toy and I have always gotten this for my cats. This toy has been around forever. My cats also seem to enjoy the toys with the feathers or fish at the end. It’ll be a fun adventure figuring out just what brings out the playful version of your pet.

            I think it’s important to ensure you set SMART goals for both your pets and yourself when making resolutions or just changes in general. These goals should be Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. What does that look like for a pet? It would look something like this; I want to be able to walk Fido around the block without carrying him home in the next two months. This is a goal that will be easily met by adding in additional walks or playtime. What about for our feline friends? I want Fluffy to lose 4 pounds by the end of year so she can be a 3/5 on the body scale. This can easily be done with diet changes and adding in play time throughout the day, like during commercials when you’re watching a show.

This will be the year that Fluffy and/or Fido really become their best and they will have you to thank for that. What better way to make new friends after a Permanent Change of Station, PCS, than with a more active, healthy, and energetic pet. Learn more about PCSing with pets. Visit

Resolutions don’t mean you have to give up the Pup Cups!