Busy schedules and dull, cold, wet weather are not conducive to healthy habits, yet finding ways to exercise your dog and cat during the winter won’t just save your pet from becoming podgy, but could benefit the whole family.
It’s no surprise that dog owners walk almost twice as much in a week than non-dog owners – the surprise is that around 50% of dogs and cats are either overweight or obese. The health problems associated with obesity in pets are the same as in people: diabetes, heart and lung disease, skin conditions, arthritis, high blood pressure and even cancer.
A healthy, portion-controlled diet is important but exercise is considered a cornerstone of preventive care, with huge benefits to you and your pet, including:
• Improved overall health
• Weight control: you should be able to feel your pet’s ribs beneath the fur. Looking down at your pet, you should be able to see a waistline.
• Reduction of unwanted behaviour, such as chewing, digging, vocalising.
• Stronger muscles and improved flexibility, decreasing risk of injury.
• A stronger human-animal bond.
If the cold weather keeps you inside, there are fun ways to create both physical and mental enrichment for your pet:
• Fetch: great for dogs and cats.
• Hide and seek: low-calorie treats hidden around the house provide cats with mental stimulation.
• Food puzzle toys to make dogs or cats work to get their food.
• Laser pointer: both dogs and cats enjoy chasing the light.
• String: a cheap and easy cat toy and a great way to get them up and moving.
But, if the temperature will allow, bundle up and take your dog for a brisk walk. Start out quickly and only allow pausing and sniffing on the return route.
After the winter, more rigorous exercise should be gradually reintroduced. As with people, excessive activity, especially after being sedentary for several months, can cause injury. For advice on diet and exercise to keep your pet active and healthy, give Clockhouse a call on 01453 752555.