Exercise is key to helping your pet maintain a healthy weight.
A pet that doesn’t get adequate exercise might be overly excitable, bark or whine excessively, or become aggressive or overly rough when playing with you or other pets. With a busy schedule of your own, it is easy to put your animal’s exercise routine on a back burner.
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However, with a few changes to your own routine, you can fit in the exercise he needs and help get your pet back on track.
The Benefits of Regular Pet Exercise
One of the most notable benefits of regular exercise for pets is their increased overall health and physical fitness.
Beyond that, exercise will help keep your pets within a healthy weight as well as reduce any digestive problems they may have. An anxious animal can also greatly benefit from exercise.
Does Your Pet Get Enough Exercise?
You might think your pet gets plenty of exercise because you give him regular access to your yard, but does he really?
Pay attention to your dog’s activity next time he goes outside. Is he running around or playing actively the whole time, or does he spend a lot of the time wandering around or waiting for you to let him back inside?
Take him to the veterinarian and have your pet’s body score evaluated, which is an estimate of overall body condition. Have him checked out for any other health conditions and determine, with the help of your vet, what type of exercise routine would be best for the 2 of you.
What Type of Exercises Should You Do?
The easiest way to work pet exercise into your schedule is to take a look at what types of activities you already like to do.
Do you walk or jog regularly? Are you a swimmer who spends lots of time near the water? By taking your pet along on activities you enjoy doing anyway, you’ll be less likely to skip exercises.
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Watch your animal carefully for signs that he is wearing down or having a hard time keeping up. Difficulty breathing, heavy panting, resisting your urge to move forward and pulling on the leash are all signs that you should slow down or stop.
You don’t want to overwork him or allow him to get dehydrated. Be sure to take lots of breaks so he can relieve himself and get a drink of water.
Timing Is Everything
With your busy schedule, you should pick a time of day to exercise that works well around your commitments. You will also want to take into account that the cooler times of the day work best for your animal. Animals are not able to regulate body temperature as well as humans and are not able to tell you when they’re beginning to overheat.
In the warmer months, try to time your workouts in the early morning or evening, when the sun is not right overhead and the temperature is usually much cooler. Coincidentally, this time of day works well for most people who work an office job or who are busy with kids all day.
Keep It Interesting
Switch up your exercise routine from time to time so your dog doesn’t get bored.
If you can, incorporate some of the games you would naturally play with him and turn them into exercise: Head to the park for a game of Frisbee or throw a ball around for your pet to fetch. Set up an obstacle course with objects for him to run around and jump over.
Exercise your agility (and his!) by kicking a ball around for him to chase. Play a game of tug o’ war with a small length of rope.
Don’t Forget Your Cat
Although cats sleep a lot, they also need physical exercise to stay fit and healthy.
Review your routine and the ways your cat gets exercise. Should you buy your cat new toys, towers or lights to chase? Consider what gets your cat chasing and playing to keep the health factor high and the fat factor low.
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Animals are naturally very playful, so if you keep an open mind, you are likely to find many opportunities throughout the day to sneak in a little exercise with your pet.
Remember to check with your vet before implementing or changing your pet’s exercise routine, especially if the physical demands are anticipated to be much higher than your pet’s existing (or non-existent) workout.