2024 Pet Wellness: A Pawsitive Start

The beginning of a new year is a blank canvas, and for pet owners, it presents an exciting opportunity to paint a year filled with nurturing care, enhanced bonding, and new adventures with your pets. New Year's resolutions aren’t just for us anymore – in 2024 dogs, cats, and every pet in between can get in on the “new year, new me” mindset. Whether it's improving their diet, increasing exercise, focusing on training, or even exploring new activities together, the resolutions we set can significantly impact their quality of life.

Join us as we explore a variety of inspiring and achievable resolutions that will not only benefit your pet’s physical and mental health but also strengthen the special bond you share with them. Let's make 2024 a year to remember for you and your pets, full of growth, love, and unbreakable bonds.

What We Learned from 2023 Pet Care & Health Trends

1. Increased Focus on Preventative Care

The realities of the vet’s office have steadily shifted in recent years as owners have become more proactive with their pet’s health, and 2023 was no exception. Vet expenses for the average pet owner rose, but owners still prioritized getting their pets annual exams and appropriate vaccinations. According to Global Marketing Insights, the annual average costs of veterinary visits for households with either a dog or cat has increased significantly in the last three years, but that hasn’t deterred pet owners from putting their pet’s care above all else. In fact, 86% of pet owners prioritized their pet's health over cost.

The best news about this trend for vets and pet parents alike? It’s here to stay. We predict an even greater emphasis on early detection, preventative medicine, and tailored wellness plans in the coming year, which we’ll discuss more a little later.

Owner giving dog high five for new year

2. Better Options for Mental Health & Enrichment

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of people around pet parents witnessed a paradigm shift in their approach, moving beyond the basics of physical health to delve into the intricate realms of their pets' emotional and cognitive needs. With an abundance of innovative toys, interactive games, and enrichment activities flooding the market, pets found themselves at the center of a mental health revolution.

3. Technology Integrations for Better Pet Care & Safety

Over the past few years, owners have increasingly taken to technology to make pet ownership safer and more convenient. From fitness trackers ensuring our pets hit their daily steps to smart feeders that dispense treats with a tap on our phones, technology integrated seamlessly into our pet care routines.

In fact, the market for pet wearables, or devices like smart collars and GPS trackers, continued to grow over the past year and is expected to grow at an annual CAGR of 10.3% as more pet parents hop on the pet tech bandwagon.

4. Personalization Took Over

Gone are the days of generic pet care. In 2023, personalization was the name of the game. From personalized food plans to training programs to wellness and toy subscriptions, just about everything could be tailored to a pet’s unique needs, likes, and dislikes.

Beneficial Resolutions

1. Commit to Regular Exercise

  • For Dogs: Resolve to take your dog on more frequent or longer walks. Regular exercise is crucial for maintaining a healthy weight, improving cardiovascular health, and reducing behavioral issues. Consider exploring new hiking trails or parks for variety and stimulation.
  • For Cats: Indoor cats can benefit from interactive play sessions. Use toys that mimic prey, like feather wands or laser pointers, to encourage natural hunting behaviors. Daily play sessions can keep your cat physically active and mentally sharp.

2. Focus on Nutrition

  • Balanced Diet: Review your pet's diet with your veterinarian and ensure it's meeting their nutritional needs. As pets age, their dietary requirements can change. Consider incorporating fresh, whole foods where appropriate and reduce the reliance on processed treats.
  • Healthy Weight: Obesity in pets can lead to numerous health issues. If your pet is overweight, work on a diet plan with your vet. Small changes like measuring food portions and choosing low-calorie treats can make a significant difference.

Owners giving cat high five for new year3. Prioritize Preventive Healthcare

  • Regular Check-ups: Schedule annual vet check-ups to catch any health issues early. Focus on regular health check-ups, vaccinations, and nutrition counseling to ensure pets stay healthy and happy. Preventive care can include parasite control, dental check-ups, and blood work for older pets as well!
  • Mental Health: Don't forget about your pet's mental well-being. Provide enrichment activities like puzzle feeders, scent games, and new toys. For pets showing signs of anxiety or stress, consider consulting a vet or an animal behaviorist.
  • Holistic Health and Wellbeing: The past year also saw a shift towards more holistic approaches in pet healthcare. More veterinarians have started incorporating alternative therapies like acupuncture, chiropractic care, and herbal medicine into their practice, offering pet owners a range of options for their pets' well-being.

4. Training and Socialization

  • Dogs: Enroll in a training class or set aside time for daily training sessions at home. Training enhances communication and strengthens your bond. For puppies, socialization is key – expose them safely to various people, animals, and environments.
  • Cats: For cats, training can include getting them comfortable with carriers and car rides. Use positive reinforcement to encourage desired behaviors.

5. Sustainable Pet Care for the Future

  • Be Green: As awareness of environmental issues grows, consider adopting sustainable practices in pet care. This can include choosing eco-friendly toys and accessories, biodegradable waste bags, or sustainable pet food options.
  • Microchipping: Aside from your pet’s health in 2024, their safety and well-being should also be a priority. Add this to your to-do list if your dog or cat isn’t microchipped. Microchipping ensures that your pet can be identified if they are lost, which is especially important if you intend to take them on vacation and they’re in an unfamiliar area. If your dog or cat is already microchipped, make sure your contact information is updated through the provider used for their microchip. A microchip is only useful if the owner can be contacted through the database.

Prioritizing Care for a Fur-Tastic Future for Pets and Owners

As we kick off 2024, the future of pet care looks bright, focusing on personalized care, sustainability, technological advancement, and community engagement. Taking on some of these New Year's resolutions promises a higher quality of life for our pets and offers more fulfilling and enjoyable pet ownership experiences. The upcoming year will bring new discoveries for pets and their owners alike, as we continue to deepen our understanding and enhance our bond with our furry, scaled, and feathered friends!

If you have any questions about your pet’s health and well-being heading in 2024, contact your local veterinarian!

Don't have a vet in your area yet? We can help you find a local veterinarian.

If you have more questions, the GeniusVets Telehealth platform will give you unlimited access to text and/or video calls with board-certified veterinarians! To learn more click here.

Happy New Year!

Contributing DVM