Garfield may be one of the funniest fat cats in the comics section, but he is anything but a model for a healthy pet. Exercises can keep your pets healthy and happy for many years.
The dangers of a sedentary lifestyle aren't hard to find. You can read articles about it in women's and men's health magazines, news websites, health organization websites, and on our blog. Johns Hopkins Medicine even calls it "Sitting Disease."
As it turns out, the same detrimental effects can happen to your pet. Exercises are good for both their bodies and their minds. In fact, if you've ever been around an underexercised dog, you know how anxious they can get.
What other behaviors and conditions do pet exercises help control or eliminate?
- Excessive barking
- Destructive behaviors like chewing furniture
- Aggressive behaviors like reactivity and growling
- Weight gain
These behaviors are annoying, at best. At worst, an aggressive dog could injure someone, and an overweight dog or cat could hurt themselves.
The opposite, of course, is that pet exercises can help you and your furry friend lead happier lives. According to Pet MD, exercise can help a dog build confidence, build trust, and calm down. For cats and dogs both, exercise can help them maintain a healthy weight, stay limber, decrease joint problems, and increase heart health.
What to Know Before You Begin Pet Exercises
While pet exercises are generally beneficial, there are some specific considerations to keep in mind. Cats, for instance, don't need the same level of exercise that dogs do. For the most part, a laser light, cat tower, or a wand-style toy is plenty to get your cat the activity she needs.
For dogs, the age and breed of your dog will dictate what kind and how much exercise he may need. Pet MD lays out a few guidelines:
- To avoid bloat, a potentially deadly condition, some large dogs should not exercise right after they eat.
- Dogs with short, flat noses tend to have trouble breathing when they get too much exercise.
- Very young dogs and older dogs need to limit distance running as it can be hard on their joints and bones.
- Watch for signs of heat exhaustion and hypothermia if your dog is exercising in especially hot or cold weather.
10 Pet Exercises Your Dog Will Love
Walking is good for you and your dog. The American Kennel Club recommends more frequent, shorter walks for puppies, and dogtime.com suggests a 30- to 60-minute walk is appropriate for most dogs. Both sites point out, though, that the amount of walking any dog needs is specific to that dog. More energetic dogs need more or longer walks, and a calm dog won't need as much.
Some dogs enjoy going for a run with their people. If your dog is properly leash-trained, consider taking him on a run. Start off with a short distance, which you can gradually increase once you learn how far your dog can comfortably go.
3. Fetch racing
Prevention magazine offers this great exercise that will get you and your dog moving. Just like a regular game of fetch, throw the ball for your dog, then race him to pick it up. When one of you reaches the toy, play tug-of-war with it. Repeat. You'll probably wear out before your dog, but it's a great bonding experience in addition to good exercise.
4. Find a friend
There's nothing like two or more dogs playing together to burn off that canine energy. Head to a dog park or a fenced-in backyard and let your dog and his best friends run, wrestle, and chase each other silly.
5. Mind games
Brain exercises can be fulfilling for your dog when you can't get outside. Think about how exhausting it is for us humans to drive through an intense rainstorm or heavy snow. The same principle applies to your dog. Put his dinner in a Kong toy, give him treats in a puzzle, or teach him a new trick.
6. Hide and seek
This game is especially great if you have kids. Get them to play this together, and you can cook dinner while both your dog and your kids are occupied. One child hides while the other entertains the dog. When child one is hidden, she calls the dog, who then has to find her. Add in treats if your dog needs some incentive to get started.
7. Water games
Take your dog swimming, kayaking, or paddleboarding. It's good exercise for both of you and an excellent way to get some fresh air and sunshine.
8. Take a class
Head to your local dog training facility and sign your dog up for an agility class, a beginning or advanced obedience class, or even circus tricks class.
9. Senior pet exercises
While your senior pet may not need the running and jumping that a younger pet needs, she does still need to stay active to keep muscles and joints in good shape. Dr. Karen Becker has a tutorial on passive range of motion exercises that can help your older pet stay healthy.
10. Stair master
Climbing stairs is an excellent workout for both you and your dog. Head to a park, parking garage, or your own home to walk up and down the stairs. This exercise can help you both keep the weight down and get your heart rate up.
Pet exercises can help keep your pet healthy, but at some point, even the healthiest dog or cat needs a trip to the vet. Pet insurance from Pekin Insurance can help cover the cost of accidental injuries or illness to your pet, meaning you can focus on what matters most: enjoying the time you have together.
Contact your Pekin Insurance agent today to learn
more about our pet insurance policies.