Here in sunny San Diego, you cannot use frigid winter temperatures as an excuse to stay indoors and be a couch potato with your pet. Although nothing may appeal more than a Netflix binge and your favorite snack, your furry pal needs daily activity to ward off more than excess weight. Pets who are overweight or obese can suffer from a variety of weight-related conditions, including osteoarthritis, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers. Plus, pets who are seldom active become bored and prone to behavior issues, some of which may be destructive or dangerous. But, with a dedicated exercise routine, you and your four-legged companion will be physically fit and mentally healthy. Check out the following top activities for pets and kick your exercise program into gear.
Ways to be active with your dog
Your pooch may be hassling you to get up and chase squirrels, or they may be asking you to share your potato chips during the latest Netflix series. Whether or not your pup is a go-getter, encourage them to exercise more by trying fun new activities such as the following:
- Blaze new trails — That same old walking path, with the same scents, sights, people, and animals gets boring, so switch it up for a different location. Choose various sceneries and difficulty levels to keep things fresh, and strive for one unique trail exploration a week.
- Make new friends — If your pup is a social butterfly, doggy daycare may be a perfect energy outlet. However, some dogs like to socialize with only one or two familiar dogs and people, and would prefer a playdate. Having an exercise buddy will encourage your dog to play more and increase their activity.
Ways to be active with your cat
Does your cat glare at you with disdain when you wave a feather in their face? Maybe they only move for a special treat. Whatever the case, cater to your cat’s personality when choosing activities. Try the following:
- Figure out your cat’s favorite play style — As mentioned, some cats refuse to play with feather wands, but a robotic mouse will get them up and moving. Use The Ohio State University tips to learn your cat’s prey preference, and encourage them to play with toys that mimic rodents, birds, or bugs.
- Play in short bursts — Your typical house cat will not have the exercise drive of your Belgian Malinois, so keep their exercise sessions short. Cats also have a short attention span, so play and exercise in short bursts, and end on a good note, and your kitty will keep coming back for more.
Ways to be active with both your pets
You may not think your dog and cat could participate in the same physical activities, but a few can be geared toward either species. Keep your furry pal active with the following ideas:
- Design an indoor agility course — Cats and dogs alike can be taught to navigate an indoor agility course built from furniture-based jumps and obstacles. Use a toy or treat to lure your pet through the course, and once they’ve gotten the hang of it, try for a faster time.
- Implement daily training — Old dogs (and cats) can learn new tricks. Take five minutes a day to brush up on old skills, and work on new tricks. Break down complicated tricks into small steps to keep up your pet’s morale.
- Switch to food puzzles — The always-full food dish is your pet’s worst enemy. Toss it out, measure your pet’s food, and switch to food puzzles as their kibble receptacle. Canned food can be used with LickiMats, which slows down your pet while eating, and provides mental enrichment at the same time. Purchase or design your own food puzzles for your pet so you have a variety that will encourage continued engagement.
By incorporating five different physical activities into your cat or dog’s exercise regimen, you’ll be doing your furry pal’s health an incredible favor. Remember, regular exercise doesn’t only help your pet’s outward appearance in terms of weight, but also their mental function.
Before training your pet for a marathon or implementing a rigorous exercise regimen, have a Colony Veterinary Hospital veterinarian evaluate their health. Give us a call to schedule a health check-up.