Whether you have a cat, dog, horse, or rabbit, exercise is vital for your pet. Exercise helps maintain metabolic health, reduces stress, staves off arthritis, and thwarts potential behavioral problems in our mammalian friends. Like humans, animals once had to either hunt or forage for their food. In other words, they had to move in order to get the nutrients they needed to survive. As domesticated animals, our pets still need to burn energy in order to stay healthy. A regular, varied, and appropriate workout regimen is essential part of a long, rewarding life.
Of course, as is the case with humans, you will want to work into any new exercise routine gradually, especially with older and/or overweight pets. Too much activity could have lethal consequences so be sure to check with your veterinarian before starting any exercise regimen. You also want to make sure your pet is well hydrated before, after, and during physical activity.
Renowned cat behaviorist, Jackson Galaxy, suggests indoor cats get a minimum of 15 minutes or more per day of intense of exercise. A warming up and cooling down period should be added to this, which extends that playtime to about 25 minutes. Variety is also important. Have more than one pet toy you can use as bait, provide your cat with various surfaces to climb and pounce on, and improvise with different games. Although many cat owners are surprised to hear it, some cats are capable of playing fetch just like a dog. Switch from stick and feather to tossing balls of crumpled paper or other safe items (pick these up when playtime is over). See what your cat responds well to and build your repertoire over time.
The average dog needs 30 minutes anaerobic activity per day. Younger dogs and specific breeds such as Labradors, Dalmatians, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Pit Bulls, as well most terriers and pointing or working breed dogs may need even more exercise. Young Labradors will need anywhere between 45 minutes to 1.5 hours per day depending on their own natural dispositions. Exercise should include walks, runs, hikes, fetch, and swimming. On walks, vary the route, direction, and terrain (grass, cool concrete, packed dirt). For fetch, try using a frisbee which will encourage your dog to jump. Traditional ball and stick are good options too. Again, variety is the name of the game. And just because your pup prefers ball today doesn’t mean they won’t prefer a good game of frisbee tomorrow. Want a full mind-body workout for your canine companion? Try dog agility training!
There’s been a veritable explosion of new toys and exercise products made specifically for rabbits, guinea pigs, and hamsters over the past few years. Obstacle courses, newfangled wheels, tunnels, and even products designed to encourage your pet to climb are now readily available at most pet stores and online. It’s also important to note that these pets are often capable of interactive play. Try throwing bits of carrot or apple to encourage them to run after their treats. Many rabbits will reverse the usual game of fetch, making you the retriever, rather than the thrower. So, the next time Peter Rabbit flings a bit of parsley on the floor, see what happens if you pick it up and return it to him; he could be signaling you to play.
Just like humans, our pets need physical activity to maintain their physical and mental health. Kriddr can help you get more exercise into your pet’s life by helping you connect with dog walkers and pet sitters, and even with specific pet owners who have advice or insights to share. As the trusted guardians for our pets, it’s important to be proactive guardians of their overall wellness. Kriddr is happily committed to helping all our pets live happier, healthier lives.