Dr. Al Townshend
Exercise is an essential and critical factor in a pet’s health, both socially, mentally, and physically. The type of exercise we provide our pets can come in several forms, all of which can have specific benefits for the pet and their Guardians.
The form or type of exercise we provide can depend on several factors such as age, breed time of the year, the Guardian’s ability, and other factors. Retriever breeds love to retrieve, Australian Sheepdogs enjoy the challenge of herding, cats love to simulate hunting, and all pets are natural explorers of the environment.
More active Guardians may prefer outdoor activities both the pet and the Guardian can enjoy together. Busy, working families may have less time, while older Guardians may have a reduced ability. For those busy working families away from home daily, pet day care facilities offer an alternative that assures regular activity and stimulation.
Ideally, even before getting a pet, planning should include considering the options for providing regular exercise for the pet and the Guardian because it is as essential for the Guardian as it is for the pet.
Ways to Provide Exercise
No matter how exercise is provided, it is critical that Guardians should always determine when, where and how to exercise, and how long the activity will occur. This establishes the Guardian’s position as the leader and can prevent over-excitement, potential injury and over-exertion.
For outdoor activity, think about including items like sturdy leashes, collars, and harnesses to ensure your pets are safe and cannot unexpectedly run away. Seasonal items like winter coats, paw protectors for colder climates and life jackets and cooling products for summer weather should be considered based on the time of year. Always ensure that anything you give your pet to wear has no loose buttons or strings that can be chewed off and swallowed. Check out our selection of products online at https://cart.shoppetplanet.com/shop.
Play is especially important early in a pet’s life and is a great way to engage in active exercise. Playing can involve games, toys, challenges, and puzzles. Play for puppies and kittens helps to develop muscle skills and coordination and enhances the bond between the pet and Guardian.
Cats are natural predators and love games and toys that simulate hunting and challenge their agility and coordination. Check out the exciting selection of feline toys and puzzles at your favorite Pet Planet store or online at https://cart.shoppetplanet.com/shop.
Both dogs and cats should be praised for a job well done. A head scratch, hug or “good job” in combination with a low-calorie treat can make the pet’s day. Check out ideal reward treats at https://cart.shoppetplanet.com/shop.
Mental Games can work to stimulate the brain, prevent boredom and reduce stress. Without both mental and physical challenge, some animals can experience behavioral issues, suffer from depression or separation anxiety and/or can just be lethargic and tired.
Retrieving a ball, swimming, finding an object, catching a frisbee, and solving a puzzle are all great challenges that stimulate the mind and body. It’s important to understand that ‘challenge’ doesn’t mean frustrating animals to the point where they give up or become distressed! We want to provide a puzzle of some kind that is difficult but not impossible to solve. Try hiding a treat inside a toy, or around the house to stimulate hunting instincts, while providing a reward for their effort.
Simply changing up your walking route to a different path with new and exciting smells and terrain can satisfy both mental and physical needs for both you and your pet.
What are the Benefits of Regular Exercise?
- Exercise in any form burns calories and helps to maintain a normal, slightly lean body conformation.
- Regular exercise tones the muscles of the body, including the heart. Well-conditioned muscles help support the skeletal system, including the body’s joints.
- Digestive health and a regular firm stool are dependent on regular exercise.
- Mental stimulation reduces stress, slows the aging process, prevents boredom, and lowers the potential for behavioral problems.
- Playing with people and other pets and walking in public areas open to pets can improve socialization skills and reduce the risk of adverse reactions to other pets or strange people.
- The tight bond between the pet and Guardian depends on the close interactions associated with play, exercise, and challenges that are experienced together.
- In many instances, exercising the pet also provides activity and stimulation for the Guardian. The time spent with a beloved pet can be a stress reliever and mood changer, and good exercise for both the pet and the Guardian.
Providing regular and challenging activities for every pet is an essential part of a long, healthy, and active lifestyle for both the pet and Guardian.