This is the time of year when we focus on shedding bad habits and starting anew. It's also the time when plenty of newly adopted pets are settling into their new homes. Recently I asked experts to reveal the things new pet owners really need. After years interviewing professional dog walkers, trainers, specialists and veterinarians, I've also learned a few strategies to keep those new additions happy and healthy for years to come.1. Maintain a healthy weight.Yes, this familiar advice applies to pets and people. With proper care and nutrition, cats and some dogs can live well into their late teens. But obesity can rob pets of years by inviting the risk for heart disease or lead to behavioral issues such as missing the litter box. Set a strong foundation by purchasing high-quality pet food. Look for brands that list a protein such as chicken or fish among the first ingredients, and avoid giving pets table food. 2. Invest in training.Most dog trainers will admit classes primarily benefit the owner, while pets gain valuable socialization skills. Take advantage of obedience training courses in your area. Petco recently launched a series of free seminars for new pet owners, with classes scheduled throughout the month. Some animal shelters offer free training classes as well. It's a great opportunity for pets to interact with people, particularly kids, as well as other pets.Proper socialization also makes it easier for pets to travel with their people, including trips to the beach or other pet-friendly destinations. 3. Take time for dental care.Save those old toothbrushes and put them to use on a pet's pearly whites (dogs and cats). Proper dental care helps reduce "dog breath" as well as gum disease, which can lead to bigger health issues. Finger brushes, water additives and dental chews make the task a little easier. A product called Orabrush tackles bad breath by scraping plaque buildup from the tongue. Originally designed for people, the line now includes a clever little brush that dogs lick to remove tongue gunk. 4. Keep cats hydrated.Urinary tract infections rank high among the list of expensive yet preventable cat health issues. Make sure your feline companions stay properly hydrated by adding wet food to their diets and providing plenty of clean water to their bowl or even a stylish fountain. 5. Don't underestimate the value of mental stimulation.Bored pets lead to chewed iPod cases, gnawed shoes and other destruction. Cats, particularly those that spend their lives indoors, also benefit from mental stimulation. Invest in some interactive toys such as puzzles or a fun laser pointer to exercise those brain cells and bond with your pet. Frolicat's high-tech Twitch toy even has a timer so you can keep felines occupied while you are away. Dogs tend to have relatively low-tech standards. Check out Planet Dog's fun new Mazee treat puzzles ($16.95) that can keep pups occupied on carpeted areas or flat surfaces. 6. Buy pet insurance or start an emergency savings accountAccidents or unexpected illness can lead to costly veterinary bills that drain savings. Don't wait for a medical issue to arise before discussing finances with your family, and consider starting an emergency fund -- or investing in pet insurance. Plans vary widely based on the pet's age and the amount of coverage you select. Many of the larger pet insurance companies also set age limits that range from 10 to 14 years old, so it pays to start early. Even if you pick a plan that solely covers major accidents, that added precaution could save thousands.