Obesity and lack of exercise are plaguing pets as much as humans. According to a study released by the National Institutes of Health, less than one-fourth of dog owners walk their furry companions more than five times per week. And cats—especially those who reside primarily indoors—also lack the proper amount of exercise needed to stay healthy and svelte.
For optimum wellness and happiness, dogs and cats must maintain an active lifestyle. Without proper physical activity, both cats and dogs will exhibit behavior issues as a result of pent-up energy. Without healthy outlets to unleash their energy, nighttime will become playtime instead of bedtime, furniture will become jungle gyms (or worse: scratching posts or chew toys) and human friends will notice that nice play will turn rough. Dogs might whine, bark or become hyperactive. Cats, however, may become reclusive or even overreact to noises and other stimuli.
So how much animal does your furry friend actually require? At The Bark, veterinarian Susan O’Dell broke down the basics for dog owners. For sporting dogs like retrievers, O’Dell recommends 60 to 90 minutes of brisk exercise. Play Frisbee, go for a run or throw a tennis ball. If it’s warm out, take these dogs for a swim in a nearby lake or pond. Regardless of the activity, just ensure that sporting and herding breeds play hard. Hounds were bred to sniff-out and track, and they need lots of activity—so aim for weekly sprint exercises. O’Dell said that small breeds like terriers need about 60 minutes of activity each day. Feisty terriers love fetching, food puzzles and games of chase. For toy breeds like the Chihuahua, just aim for a daily walk.
Cat owners don’t get off easy. According to WebMD, more than half of all cats are overweight. Cats need daily exercise, too. Get cats off the couch with fun toys that encourage them to chase and practice their engrained hunting skills. Most cats love chasing laser pointers around the house. And balls of yarn or even a fluffy feather on a stick can provide endless entertainment. Flat-nosed felines like the Persian may have breathing issues that resemble human asthma, so instead of arduous activity just be watchful of diet to curb weight issues.
Owning a dog or cat requires owners to go beyond the basic care demands and encourage physical activities that enhance their animal’s health and wellness. Canines and felines are prone to weight issues and the health problems that arise from excess fat. To keep animals lean and healthy, provide pets with lots of fun physical activities…chances are, you’ll get a workout, too! Check out the infographic for more wellness tips and exercise ideas for your pet!