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Give pet daily walk, annual physical

Getting more exercise and losing weight are two perennial New Year’s resolutions for people. If pets could pick goals and resolutions, most dogs would be thrilled to get more exercise, especially if that means daily outdoor walks or trips to dog parks.

Of course, there are some dogs that don’t like going out in cold or wet conditions. Pablo, our family’s cocker spaniel, doesn’t like his white paws to have any contact with grass that has been rained upon, but he loves snow and cold weather. He never shivers and is downright perky in the winter.

A dog coat or sweater can take the bite out of winter exercise for big dogs like greyhounds and tiny dogs like Chihuahuas. I’ve even seen pit-bull terriers and Doberman pinschers sporting coats and sweaters, because dogs with short, sparse hair and little body fat can get uncomfortably cold.

A coat can’t keep their feet warm, however. Snow sometimes clumps and forms ice balls in pads and between toes, and that makes walking painful. Sidewalk salt and de-icers can sting and burn paws.

Musher’s Secret wax is the solution for both problems, and it’s sold everywhere – specialty pet stores, chain pet stores, many hardware stores and on multiple websites.

Pablo doesn’t have a Facebook page or his own email address, but like many pets, he does get emails and messages. His are sent to my email address and my Facebook page.

One of his recent emails came right before Christmas from his veterinarians at the Greentree Animal Clinic. “Three Gifts to Give Your Pets” was the headline. It suggests 1) a holiday physical exam, 2) daily exercise and 3) a health profile.

All pets should have regular veterinary exams. No one should wait until an animal gets sick before establishing a relationship with a veterinarian. I’m intrigued with the health-profile suggestion, which includes having yearly or twice-yearly blood and urine testing. Those aren’t tests I’ve routinely requested.

“Many diseases in pets don’t become obvious until it’s too late,” according to the email. Blood and urine tests can spot diseases or problems before there are any symptoms.

Wellness-examination guidelines, including blood and urine analysis, are covered on the website Tests will vary “depending on the species, age and health needs of the patient.”

Bloodwork can uncover a wide range of problems including anemia, infection or organ disease. Urinalysis can test for the presence of bacteria, blood and evidence of infection.

“For any pet, especially senior pets, a wellness examination is a good way to detect early onset of disease,” including diabetes and heart disease, says the Vetstreet site.