Humans have evolved over the years to adapt to new circumstances. With less hunting and gathering and more computer work, humans are sedentary more than ever before. While many animals, such as dogs, are prone to an active lifestyle, they tend to take on the lifestyles of their owners. Essentially, how you live your life can affect how your pet lives! Since exercise is beneficial for both you and your pet, finding ways to exercise that you both can handle is the best place to start. You should begin to build endurance slowly. See below for some specific pet care tips to keep your loved one active for years through pet exercise.
Benefits of Exercise
Aside from cardiac health, weight control, and bodily agility, exercise can help your pet sleep soundly at night and limit behavioral problems, such as hyperactivity, destructive scratching, and barking or mewing. Additionally, if your pet has a history of abuse and/or related distrust and social anxiety, exercising with you can help build trust and confidence.
Forms of Exercise
Dogs are likely to get exercise through walks and playful activities in the yard, yet often their forms of exercise involve some type of interaction with you. On average, dog owners walk 300 minutes per week, as opposed to non-dog owners who walk about 168 minutes per week. Cats have a less social nature, yet they too can receive the right amount of exercise with your encouragement.
For dogs, the types of exercises can come in one of two forms: more effort or less effort on your part, depending on your physical capabilities and energy level each day. Here are a variety of exercise options to consider for your dog:
- Throwing a stick, a Frisbee, or a ball never grows old. You can sit or stand and let your pooch do all the leg work. Blowing bubbles for your dog to chase can be a fun alternative.
- Does your dog have to receive food in a dish in the same spot every day? What if you took a meal’s worth of food and hid it, forcing your dog to forage for the meal? Your dog can work off the food before eating it! You don’t have to just stop with food. You can go even further by creating an obstacle course for your dog to tackle before getting to the food.
With cats, you can try walking them on a leash, if they can tolerate it. If not, consider the following activities to motivate their movement well into old age:
- Use a light or laser to trace the room, so the cat can follow it around. Make sure to add a toy prize to show your cat that the activity’s worth the effort. An alternative is to use a wand with a feather or a stuffed mouse on the end. Wave the wand over the couch or up and down the stairs to promote even more exercise.
- Build or purchase a multi-tiered cat tower. Add in treats to encourage your cat to climb and work hard for the treats.
- Like dogs, cats can partake in an obstacle course. Look for ideas and suggestions online. Adding some bars for jumping and pouncing and some tunnels to crawl through are good places to start. You can use simple household items to construct the course.
An Exercise Plan
If you’re unsure about the types of exercises that work best for your pet, given particular medical conditions and breeds, contact your vet today to discuss options and make a plan. If you happen to be in Western Pennsylvania, contact us at the Animal Medical Center at 814.443.6979.