New Year’s (Pet) Resolutions

A Guide for Treating Your Pet RightYour How to Guide For Treating Your Pet Right!

As we all reach a shiny new year, we work to make resolutions that will bring us peace, new adventures, satisfy our hopes and dreams, and enhance our lives. In short, we are always striving to thrive. In our animal friends and companions, “thriving” means good food, preventative and appropriate health-care, and enriched and supportive environments. A novel idea this coming year: make resolutions for your pet to make sure they “thrive” and not just “survive”:

To begin selecting what changes to make, we first present some common myths about pets: their abilities, behaviors, and correlation to medical maladies.

Not all pets are secretly athletes in disguise and just waiting to go on a 2 mile hike. Many dogs get injured when a new exercise routine is started too quickly.

Gagging, coughing or vomiting is NOT a normal dog or cat behavior. We routinely see pet owners who say their cat or dog vomit on a regular basis and that the owners have come to live with this as a normal routine for their pet. This is oftentimes ACTUALLY a symptom of a medical condition (like asthma or allergies) for which there are very effective treatments.

Pet “accidents” in the home can be a sign of lack of fiber in food. Many pet foods (including even some “holistic” pet food) purposefully cut out grains, fruits and vegetables in exchange for high-protein concentrations.

Frequent pet bathing is “OK.” Pets think nothing of getting dirty or eating something very smelly. Washing or bathing your pet is a great time to check for any new bumps, hidden cuts and bugs such as ticks and fleas.

The wait-and-see approach to veterinary care can kill. We don’t mind the phone calls from concerned pet “parents” asking about a new behavior they noticed in their pet. Pets are remarkably adept at hiding pain. If you notice your pet looks uncomfortable, shivering, or has unusual panting or breathing, call us if the symptoms remain for longer than a day.

Just like in people, tarter on pet’s teeth harbor some of the worst bacteria they are ever exposed to. In addition to causing gum loss, tooth loss, and potential systemic infection, bad teeth can cause chronic and significant pain. Regular brushing, regular exams, and preventative cleanings can contribute to a happier and healthier life.

Recommended Pet Resolutions

Remember, start any new activity with your pet slowly at first and gauge how they are coping with the change.

Consider enrolling your dog in daycare.

Consider getting your pet allergy-tested if they lick constantly, have chronic ear problems, teary eyes, or scratch often.

Get pet insurance. Many studies have shown pets that have regular visits to their doctor live longer. There are many plans available. Check with us and we will help with the right plan for you and your family. We will even assist with submitting all claims.

Train/play with your pet. Pets are intelligent and love to learn. Spending even a short time in training with your dog several times a week, or creating games for your dog or cat, can brighten their day, enrich both your lives, and decrease stress for everybody involved. Talk with your veterinarian, or a good trainer for ideas.

Make sure that animals are safe, people are safe and belongings are safe. Crates, when used well (think about your pet having his/her own room), can provide a safe place for animals to go in times of stress.

Don’t skip your pet’s annual exam and tests: heart-worm combo tests and fecal tests for intestinal parasites are important. Heartworm is prevalent and causes significant and life- threatening changes to the heart and surrounding vessels and tissues. The tick diseases tested for are very prevalent in VA and can cause both immediate and chronic medical problems. Catching these diseases early can ensure a better outcome and is much cheaper to treat. Additionally, testing your dog can be an important indicator of whether your immediate surroundings have ticks that carry these diseases, which may help protect you. The GI parasites that dogs and cats can have can be spread to humans, and are especially worrisome for children. Regular testing protects everyone.

This New Year’s can be an opportunity to improve your pet’s quality of life.

Our 92-degree underwater treadmill is perfect for year-round exercise of older or obese pets that may injure themselves trying to keep up with a human’s rate of walking or jogging.

Pet acupuncture can relieve stress in pets, treat lethargy, and relieve arthritis. We have loads of testimonials from pet owners who are amazed at the changes even in their older pets after a 20-minute acupuncture session.

This New Year’s can be an opportunity to improve your pet’s quality of life. Ensure he or she makes it to the next by considering how brief their lives already are and what they mean to you and your family.

Dr. Chau

-Dr. Hanh Chau, DVM, CVA, CCRT
Dr. Chau is a graduate of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (Virginia Tech). She has a Doctor- ate of Veterinary Medicine, and has also trained and been certified in Veterinary

Acupuncture. She is also a certified Canine Rehabilitation Therapist which she believes compliments both her surgical skills as well as her training in acupuncture therapy. She has been in practice for 15 years in the DC metro area.


  1. So the kids are out of school or you’re taking some time off from work? If your schedule changes, you should consider your pets’ scheduling needs as well. Your altered schedule won’t make much sense to your pets and it could cause them some transitional stress. Routine helps dogs and cats feel safe.

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