Exercising Your Pet

As with us, one of the main benefits of exercising your pet is for health and fitness reasons. This ensures that their muscles remain strong and supple, and to also ensure that they don’t become overweight.

As you may appreciate, different animals have different requirements, which we will explore below.

Dogs

  • It’s important to be aware that it’s your responsibility to make sure your pet has at least one walk a day so they don’t become frustrated.
    • Puppies require different levels of exercise to enable healthy growth. Over exercising can lead to damage to their joints, which can increase the risk of developing early arthritis.
    • A good calculation recommended by the Kennel Club ™ is to allow 5 minutes of exercise per month of age, up to twice daily. For example, a 3-month-old puppy will require 15 minutes of exercise up to twice daily.
  • It’s worth remembering that time spent out in your garden is not the same as being able to explore new and different environments like your local park.
  • Once your dog has reached adulthood there are various ways to exercise them, some of these are:
    • Running with your dog - benefits both yourself and your dog.
    • Fly ball - this is similar to a human relay race in that there are teams of dogs participating. The course consists of four hurdles which your dog will need to jump over to reach the end of the track. Once at the end, there will be a box of tennis balls (a dogs idea of heaven, we know!) which your dog will need to stomp on to grab one. They must then carry this back to the starting line and once the line has been crossed the next dog will do the same until all the balls are at the starting line. This is a competitive sport so consider wisely!
    • Agility - ideal for dogs with high energy levels. It consists of running and jumping over obstacles. Again, this can be a competitive sport.
    • Simple game of fetch
    • Allowing to play with other dogs
  • It’s also worth remembering to exercise your dog’s brain and provide cognitive challenges, for example training them to bow on command or challenging them with a puzzle toy.

There are lots of other ways in which you can exercise your dog; these have hopefully just provided a few ideas to get you started!

Cats

It’s not just dogs that require regular exercise! Cats also need exercise to ensure they remain in good health and fitness. Obesity in cats is a common problem noted in veterinary practices and quite often it’s thought that owners perceive a fat cat as a happy cat. Alongside dietary intervention, exercise is a key factor in making sure cats remain a happy, healthy weight.

It’s often surprising to be told to increase a cat’s activity levels as they’re thought to be self-sufficient in comparison to dogs, and therefore don’t need encouragement to exercise.

The general rule with cats is to provide environmental enrichment and it’s often the case that the cheaper the toy, the more likely the cat is to play with it (typical cats!). Some examples are; cardboard boxes, newspaper and one of our vets even found their cat playing with scrunched up receipts!

It’s good practice to ensure you have ‘playtime’ with you cat from a young age so it becomes part of their normal routine.

Rabbits

Rabbits are also at risk of obesity and health problems such as fly strike, therefore encouraging them to run around in your garden is a good idea to help prevent this.

As most rabbit owners are aware, fly strike is a serious condition made worse by poor hygiene and obesity. As well as diet and cleanliness of their environment, exercise is a good preventative treatment.

Here are a few tips in exercising your rabbit:

  • Play tag - if your rabbit is running towards you, turn around and run away. After a while, turn and chase your rabbit. It may take a few goes but it will be worth it.
  • Hold up treats for your rabbit to reach - this allows your rabbit to stretch out their body.
  • Play fetch - you will be the one doing the fetch, however provide your rabbit with a toy and allow them to toss it around in the air.

These are just a few suggestions on how to exercise with your pets. All you need to remember is that there are increased health benefits to your beloved pet in keeping them fit and active. Also, by having this close interaction you’ll be further strengthening the human companion animal bond that already exists between you and your pet!

And finally, remember this should be fun for all involved.