WHY YOUR FURRY FRIENDS NEED EXERCISE
Exercise is good for just about everyone. You know who needs quality exercise as much as you do? Your pets! Dogs and cats alike need physical as well as mental exercise for a variety of reasons.
WHY IS PET EXERCISE IMPORTANT?
There are many obvious benefits to your pet getting proper exercise. It helps your pet maintain proper muscle tone, proper weight, and it improves heart health.1 Exercise also has other benefits that aren't tied directly to physical health. Regular exercise can help with your pet's mood and behavior. It stimulates her mind, which helps her mood and alleviates her tension or anxiety, which can lead to destructive behaviors.2 In essence, plenty of exercise leads to a happy, healthy pet, which leads to a happy, healthy pet parent.
HOW MUCH EXERCISE DOES YOUR PET NEED?
The amount of exercise your dog should get varies greatly based on age, breed and size. On average, your dog should be getting at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise a day. In total, including vigorous exercise and lighter walks, one to two hours of exercise for dogs is standard. Smaller, older or overweight dogs need less exercise than younger, larger, healthier dogs. Also, breeds that have short snouts, like bulldogs, require less exercise due to their difficulty breathing during heavy activity. If you have a breed from herding, working or sporting groups, like hounds, retrievers or shepherds, she is going to require much more exercise.3
While not as active as their canine counterparts, cats still require daily exercise. An average young, healthy cat needs to get about 15 to 30 minutes of exercise a day. Older, overweight cats may need a little less. The best way to determine if your cat is getting too much or too little exercise is to simply observe her behavior. If she seems to be in pain or sluggish, ease off the duration or intensity of the activity. If she still has a ton of energy, increase it.4
HOW TO PROPERLY EXERCISE YOUR PET
The simplest way you can exercise your dog is with frequent walks. When you walk your dog, be sure to vary up your route and length so that your pooch is exposed to different sights and smells. Dogs dig variety. Just like you wouldn't want to do the same thing over and over, your dog doesn't, either. Bored pets are destructive pets. Daily walks are good for both you and your dog to get out of the house and get moving. If your dog is still unruly, dog exercise pens are an easy and safe way for your dog to run around indoors or in your yard.
While walks are great, there are other ways to get your dog the more vigorous exercise that she requires. Interactive games with your dog are great to get her running, and this is also valuable bonding time with you. Games like fetch, tug-of-war or even catching bubbles are fun, easy ways to get your dog super active. If your dog is a social butterfly, doggie daycare or a dog park is a great way to let her run, jump and play. The best part is that when she is done, she will be too tired to do anything but behave.
It's a bit trickier to make sure cats get proper exercise. Most hate to go on walks, and going for a swim is pretty much a non-starter. So how do you get your feline off the couch? The best way is to connect with her natural instincts to get her up and moving. Cats are hunters and trackers, so any game that mimics those instincts is sure to be a success. Toys that resemble the look and movement of birds, mice and other prey are great. They let your cat hunt and pounce, which is what she naturally wants to do. If you have a kitten or a younger cat, playing with a wand toy or a piece of string can be a lot of fun for your feline friend. You can even hide treats around your house to let her hunt for her food. A good tip is to determine whether your cat is a tree dweller or a bush dweller. If she's a climber and likes to be up high, hide her food up there. If she is more "grounded" hiding her food behind and underneath furniture will encourage her to hunt it down. Use her instincts and preferences to get the most out of your cat.
If you've surfed YouTube for longer than a few minutes, you probably know how much cats love chasing beams of light. Light beams from laser pointers or flashlights are great things for your cat to hunt and chase around. You may even have a viral video on your hands.
Anything interactive with your cat that mimics hunting and killing prey will get your cat active and deepen your bond. There are several toys that do just that. Your cat has very deep natural instincts that can be tapped into to bring out her inner cat mojo.
Exercise is key to a long, healthy life for your pet. It will help her get good sleep, behave better, improve her mood and make your home life much more pleasant. Who knows, it may even inspire you to be healthier, too!
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