Posted 16th Jan 2018
Regular exercise is crucial for maintaining a healthy body weight and building strong muscles. Not only stimulating the mind and increasing overall happiness levels, there are also significant health benefits for both you and your four-legged friend. However, exercise can be fun, offering numerous opportunities to bond with your pets.
The good news is, fitting this extra exercise into your routine doesn't need to be a challenge - these simple tips could help, and before you've said 'two shakes of a dog's tail', both you and your pet will reap the rewards of adopting a healthy lifestyle, as these tips will explain...
Take your dog for plenty of walks will be great exercise for both you and your dog. Maintain a brisk pace and within half an hour you could burn as many as 170 calories. On top of this, owners will report their dog is better behaved when they receive regular exercise. Without it, you may find they act out, show anxiety or will tend to bark or chew more frequently.
Tailor activity levels
Take care to tailor your pet's exercise levels to suit their individual needs, which are based on age, breed, size and overall health. As a rule, dogs should spend between 30 minutes and two hours active every day. However, breeds who are hunting, working, or herding dogs such as Labrador retrievers, hounds or collies will need the most exercise, while many smaller dogs and older pets, a casual walk around the neighbourhood should be enough to keep them in check.
Keep an eye on your pet's signals - if they seem to be restless or pacing, chances are they're itching for a long walk, and before you start an exercise program with your dog, visit your veterinarian. Along with an overall health assessment, your vet can help to recommend an exercise plan which is appropriate for your dog's age, breed and condition.
Switch it up
To ensure you stick at it, mix up your routine. Walk your pooch in different places, including the beach or park, and use interactive toys and games, including rope-tug or fetch, to engage your pup and to encourage activity.
As dogs are typically creatures of habit, once they get into the routine of a daily walk, they won't let you get out of it, just because it's drizzling, or you don't feel like it. However, if you need a boost. just think how excited your pet will be.
Don't forget your feline friend
People will underestimate how much exercise your feline friend needs. This has caused an unfortunate obesity epidemic, with 40 per cent of cats currently reported to be overweight.
While cats won't want to be put on a lead and taken for a stroll, they still require regular exercise. You should try to spend at least 10-15 minutes a few times a day to engage your cat in some form of activity.
Activities that encourage their natural instincts to hunt and climb, including trees and scratching posts will be the best bet, but even everyday household items, like paper bags and cardboard boxes, can keep things novel for your cat.
Remember, cats love to play too
For some cats, particularly those who are older or overweight, encouraging activity could be easier said than done. Does this sound familiar? To engage your cats interest, try some interactive games, including wiggling a length of string across the floor just out of reach or even rubbing their toys in catnip. It may take a little imagination, along with some trial and error, but the key is to start slow, with only a few minutes of play at a time.
Whatever you do, don't give up - playing with your cat on a regular basis is great for their mental and physical health, and teaches you vital lessons about your cat's personality, helping to strengthen the bond between you.
Don't forget, to get the maximum benefit out of regular exercise, it's necessary to feed your pet a healthy diet. While you could think a pudgy pet looks adorable, carrying excess weight can increase joint inflammation. That's why it's important to feed your dog or cat a 100 per cent complete and balanced diet, which has plenty of high quality, animal-based proteins to help keep weight gain under control and minimise any stress on their joints.
Tips courtesy of IAMS Pet Pledge