Most people know that regular exercise is important for good health, but what you may not realize is that exercise is just as important for your pet. The Association of Pet Obesity Prevention estimates that 59.5 percent of cats and 55.8 percent of dogs in the United States are overweight. To help prevent your pet from being part of those statistics, make sure they receive daily exercise.
*Consult with your veterinarian before starting a new exercise regimen with your pet.
Work up a pant
Regular exercise helps dogs expend energy, lowers their risk of obesity, reduces unwanted behaviors due to boredom or anxiety, and builds confidence. How much activity your dog needs will depend on its age, health condition, and breed. On average, dogs require thirty to sixty minutes of daily exercise. However, some dogs, particularly those classified as herding or sporting breeds, may need up to ninety minutes. Also, puppies require more exercise in short bursts, while senior dogs may need shorter, low-impact workouts.
Sure, you may take your pup for a regular walk or visit the local dog park. However, that only scratches the surface of ways to exercise your dog. Try some of the following activities that will leave them dog-tired.
- Hiking: Exploring parks and trails can be a tail-wagging experience for your dog. Not only will they get exercise, but they will also get to experience the sights, sounds, and scents of a new area.
- Swimming: A dip in the pool will give your canine companion a muscle-strengthening and cardiovascular workout. Dogs who suffer from joint problems can get their cardio in the pool. Remember to make sure your dog is comfortable with the water before starting a swimming session.
- Dancing: Get ready to bust a move with your pooch. Dog dancing, also known as musical canine freestyle, allows you to choreograph a routine with your pup to a favorite song. As fun as it can be, it’s also an aerobic workout that can improve your dog’s stamina, balance, and muscle tone.
- Yoga: You can get your namaste on with your dog by practicing doga—yoga for you and your pup. You can attend classes in person or start with online videos. This mindful exercise will not only benefit your flexibility and relaxation, but your dog’s too. Plus, they’re a natural for the downward-facing dog position.
- Tennis: Serve up a good time by hitting the court with your pup. They might not be able to use a racket, but a game of fetch while you work on your swing is just as good.
Dog exercise equipment
If you’re interested in workout equipment for your dog, consider some of these options.
- Automatic ball launcher: This action-packed toy gives dogs a chance to work out in your backyard, even when you’re busy. Many ball launchers, like this one from iFetch, allow your dog to load it themselves for endless fun.
- Balance discs: Humans use balance discs to improve their core strength, but your pup can use them too. Balance discs, like these from FitPAWS, can help teach your dog body awareness and improve their flexibility, and they can help older dogs maintain strength and balance.
- Obstacle course: You can find a variety of obstacle-course sets online that include hurdles, tunnels, weave poles, and tire jumps. And, best of all, running with your dog as they navigate the course can serve as a mini-workout for you.
Skip the catnap
You don’t need to feel left out if you’re a cat owner. There are plenty of purr-fect ways you can bond with your feline friend while helping them exercise. It’s recommended that cats receive around thirty minutes of physical activity a day; this will depend on age and if your cat is strictly an indoor feline or spends time outside. Regular physical activity also helps cats relieve stress and eliminate boredom.
Cats don’t have the same reputation as dogs do for running around and roughhousing. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy being active. Try some of the following activities to help your cat exercise.
- Walk: Just like dogs, regular walks can benefit your cat. With some patience and leash training, you can take your cat for a walk around your yard. However, you may want to avoid walking your cat in public, especially if they are shy or there will be other animals around.
- Food hunt: As cute as cats can be, they have natural predatory instincts. Help your cat practice hunting by splitting their food up into small bowls and placing each one at different spots around your house every day. Exercise and food? It’s a win-win!
- Agility course: You can design an agility course for your cat to entice it to romp around your home. You can add everything from hurdles and tunnels to boxes and blankets to create a course for exploring and exercising.
Cat exercise equipment
If you need some assistance in getting your cat to exercise, try adding some of these feline fitness items to your home.
- Cat wheel: Much like a wheel you may see in a hamster cage, these devices, such as this one from One Fast Cat, allow your cat to run in place. This exercise helps increase their strength and metabolism. House cats are natural runners, with the ability to reach speeds of 30 mph. Just be sure to keep a watchful eye on your cat when it’s using the wheel.
- Cat tower: There are a variety of sizes and designs to give your cat space to jump, climb, and scratch. Place a few cat treats in different spots in the tower to encourage your cat to scale the structure.
- Another cat: If you have room in your home, introducing a feline companion to play with can help fill a cat’s exercise needs. It’s better to pair up younger cats, as a senior cat may have little patience for a rambunctious kitten.