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The one New Year's resolution you should make for your pets this year

Anna is a lifestyle writer who spends way too much time with her two dogs. When she is not writing, she is probably gardening, reading, tripping over dog toys, or trying to acquire more farm animals than she really needs.

I made focusing on my pets' weight my resolution last year, and here's what happened

Last New Year's, I decided to try something new. I wasn't going to focus on getting back in shape. Instead, I decided to help my dogs lose weight.

Before I worked in the veterinary field, I thought fat cats were kind of cute. Now I can't help but list off all the health problems that accompany pet obesity, like diabetes and heart failure. That is why I made a different New Year's resolution last year. I wasn't going to worry about myself. I was going to make sure my pets were living the healthy lifestyle they deserved.

More: If your dog is fat, it may say more about you than you'd like

Choosing the best diet for roly-poly fur kids

The first thing I decided to look at was diet. If I wanted to help my pets lose weight, the cheap stuff wasn't an option. I also knew I didn't want to jump on the latest pet diet fad bandwagon until veterinarians had more time to research the effects.

More: 11 Self-love mantras inspired by adorable animals

Plenty of high-quality pet foods are out there. I poured over ingredient labels until I found a few that were made of mostly nutritious products, like meat, fish, sweet potatoes and rice. My pets luckily don't have food allergies, so my choices were wide open.

Portion control for pups

Personally I have a hard time telling myself "no" to another cookie or a second helping. My dogs would too if they had the option. Luckily for their health, I am still in control of the treat jar.

More: What's a healthy weight for dogs?

I read the back of their new food bag and talked with my vet about proper portions and pet care during their checkups. What she told me sounded disturbingly like all the people weight loss plans that actually work. My pets needed to eat balanced meals, cut out unhealthy treats and start exercising. So I measured out their food carefully, vowed to not feed them anymore table scraps and steeled myself for those puppy-eyed looks.

Exercising with the fur babies

Planning their exercise regimen got a little personal. As I looked over my options, I realized most of them involved exercise on my part too, unless I wanted to buy a pet treadmill. Here is what I came up with:

  • Throw their pet toys around, and actively engage them in play.
  • Enroll them in a doggy day care, or hire a dog walker, depending on my budget.
  • Walk my dogs myself once or twice a day.

More: Dennis the dachshund lost 43 pounds, and he loves his workout

It seemed silly to pay someone else to walk my dogs when I could do it myself, and my budget didn't allow for spending on doggy day care, especially since I had just switched them to a more expensive, higher-quality food. That left me with only one option: To get my pets back into shape, it looked like I would have to get back in shape too.

A year later

It was easier to make a commitment to my pets than to myself. Last year's New Year's resolution to help my pets lose weight was one of the only resolutions I actually followed through with. Now my pets are healthier, slimmer and more energetic.

Thanks to them, so am I.

More ideas to keep your pets healthy

Confronting the dog obesity epidemic
Which human foods can you feed your dog?
5 Tips for a slimmer, healthier cat

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