Many people think about improving themselves in some way starting Jan. 1. Perhaps it’s the thought of a clean, fresh calendar symbolizing a new start. In addition to tweaking your habits, how about improving life for your pets? Consider some of these pet resolutions. Some are good for both of you.

1. Spend more quality time together. When you see your cat sitting curled on the other end of the sofa or your dog sitting by your side, engage your friend with brushing, a toy or just petting. Talk to your pets more. Time with pets helps you both relax.

2. Take your dog for more walks and in more locations. Letting him out in the backyard may take care of his elimination needs, but walking the neighborhood or frolicking at the dog park help meet his social and exercise needs, too. Many dogs who “go” only in their yard simply take care of business and then sit around, waiting to be let in. By going for a walk with your dog, he enjoys outdoors adventure and bonding time, and you both get a little more exercise in your day.

3. Keep regular vet visits. Many pet maladies go unnoticed to the point that available treatments aren’t as helpful as they could have been if the disease had been detected early on. Vets also offer advice, preventative treatments and vaccines that help maintain your animals’ health. It’s also important to maintain flea and tick control to prevent heartworm, which can be fatal.

4. Line up a good pet sitting service. Even if you usually enlist a friend to help you out when you can’t be there for your pets, you should arrange for a back-up plan: a dog walker or cat sitting service that can step in if you must be away. Also, if your pets are nervous or destructive, you should consider a pet sitter to check on your pets Monday through Friday while you’re at work. Bored or otherwise distressed pets will find something to do, and that’s usually something destructive.

5. Sign up for pet grooming. If you lack time or the ability to groom your pets, leave it in the hands of a professional. Especially if you and your pet dread nail clipping, getting that trim even or other nerve-wracking aspects of grooming, you owe it to both of you to let a competent groomer help everyone enjoy life more.

6. Invest in new toys for your pet periodically. Of course, it’s fun to spoil our pets for Christmas, but an occasional new toy at other times of the year can help keep life interesting for pets. Imagine if nothing in your routine ever changed. Life would get pretty dull.

by Deborah Jeanne Sergeant