Fit Felines and Muscular Mutts: Making Pet Exercise Fun
Most of us already know how important physical exercise can be for our pets. Daily exercise not only burns calories and keeps our furry friends lean, it also helps to boost the immune system, which protects against diseases like diabetes and cancer. Daily play adds elements of fun and excitement to each day, a necessary component for the well-rounded life of our pets.
Even the most committed pet owners and active pets can easily find themselves bored with the daily walk or game of laser chase. Our creative pet exercise ideas are designed to provide you with a template for incorporating fun, simple, and regular exercise into your pet’s life.
Out and About
Although a daily walk is extremely important for your dog’s mental and physical well-being, changing it up can alleviate boredom and keep you both motivated to continue exercising together. Try hiking instead of walking, exploring a new neighborhood or walking path, or driving your pet to a pet store and perusing the aisles together. Games, such as Frisbee, fetch, keep away, and tug-of-war, are wonderful ways to engage your dog’s natural hunting and foraging instincts, while burning calories at the same time.
At Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center, we recommend that all cats live exclusively indoors for their health, safety, and longevity. That being said, there are still ways to safely provide a cat with outdoor exercise and a connection to nature. A screened outdoor porch such as a Catio Space and leash walking are both becoming popular ways to allow cats to experience or explore a natural setting while still remaining protected.
Indoor Pet Exercise
There’s no reason fun activities have to stop just because it’s raining or because you have an indoor-only pet. Try the following ideas – they’ll cost only a little of your time…
- Hide-and-seek – You can teach your dog to play this classic indoor game using treats or people. This also provides the opportunity to practice “Wait”, “Come”, “Ok”, and other basic commands while having fun with your dog.
- Obstacle course – You don’t need much room to set up a fun and challenging obstacle course for your energetic pooch. There are many pre-made options online, as well as DIY instructions. The Agility for Fun, Rally O’ for Fun, and Barkour classes in our Canine Academy provide this fun alternative at our facility.
- Repurposed fun – Use your cat’s fascination with mundane items to your advantage by offering him or her items to play with (not chew on or swallow) that you have lying around your home, such as open boxes, open paper bags (not plastic), toilet paper tubes, or crumpled tissue paper. For your dog, we recommend using only toys and tugs that can’t be chewed up and swallowed. Many of these items can be made at home, too. Be sure to always be present to supervise your pet when playing with any toy or chew!
Older pets may be a little more difficult to engage as they may not have the stamina for extended or vigorous exercise, but even short periods of playtime or activities throughout the day can be extremely beneficial. Daily activity helps keep joints limber and can lessen the pain caused by arthritis and other degenerative diseases. It also keeps pets mentally engaged and happy.
Before you begin an exercise program for your pet, we recommend that you bring your pet in for a checkup at Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center to rule out any underlying health issues and ensure that your pet is able to participate in physical activity.
Now, go have some fun!