TREASURE COAST - It’s that time of year again when many of us make 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 can provide you with the motivation to get 2021 started on the right track.

Best Friends Animal Society suggests five ways pets can be the best resolution buddies.

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, try a 10 minute walk at your own pace and boost your time by five-minute increments each week.

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! Research has shown that 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 provide a gentle workout.

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. Avoid grapes or raisins, since they can be toxic to dogs.

Keep in mind that no more than 10% of a pet’s daily calories should come from treats. Your veterinarian can confirm which foods are appropriate for your particular pet.

Venture Out. If you’ve been stuck at home and can’t take one more day staring at four walls, leash up your dog 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. Be sure to check first to see if they allow dogs.

Be Social. Even during COVID-19, there is a way to be among 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.

Don’t have a pet? Adopt! 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 animals at shelters are fixed, vaccinated, micro-chipped and ready to go home for just one low fee.

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