Like humans, many dogs and cats are overweight and prone to diseases like diabetes, arthritis, kidney disease and cancer. That’s why, just like us, it’s essential they eat healthy and exercise.
Some active dog breeds, like labs, need an hour or more a day of activity. For others, just a walk around the block will do. Remember, whatever activities you initiate with a sedentary pet, start slow and increase the length and intensity of their activities over a few weeks. Many dog breeds may be built to run, but if they’re overweight and have been inactive for a while, they could be dealing with strains on their joints, hearts and lungs.
Here are some simple but smart fitness ideas to get you and your dog started:
- Walking, running and biking: If your pet hasn’t been out much, start with a long walk or short jog. Extended runs or bicycle rides aren’t a good idea unless you know they can handle the exertion and they’re built for it — for instance, short-nosed dogs like English or French bulldogs are definitely not made for long runs and can quickly suffer heatstroke. And be sure to protect their feet — hot and cold roads and sidewalks in the summer and winter can cause serious damage.
- Swimming: We assume dogs love to swim (and that cats don’t) but many dog breeds are not very good swimmers. If you’re going to take them swimming, invest in a life vest.
- Balls and frisbees: Virtually anything can be a reason to play with your dog. A visit to the park or the back yard, with some impromptu throwing and fetching, is guaranteed good exercise.
And cats need to stay active too! Throwing around play toys and a little fun with a laser toy for a few minutes every day will usually do the trick. Cat climbing trees are also an amazing way to encourage your cat to stay fit. Try dangling a piece of string from a branch near the trunk.
If you have any questions or concerns, be sure to contact your vet. And ask for advice from other Shop Talk Blog community forum members!
Did you know? It’s easy to tell if they’re overweight
Can your dog or cat stand to lose a few pounds? Cuddle them to find out. You should be able to feel, but not see, their ribs. Your vet can also analyze their Body Condition Scale (like a human Body Mass Index) to know for sure. (Source)