Many pet owners enjoy couch cuddle sessions and afternoon naps with their favorite four-legged companion. In fact, spending quality time with your pet every day is a vital component of responsible pet ownership. It can be challenging to schedule daily trips to the dog park or multiple play sessions with your feline companion, especially when you have a long to-do list of household chores or work obligations. However, incorporating daily activity is an essential part of your pet’s overall health and wellness. Before beginning a daily routine, have your pet checked out by your family veterinarian to ensure they are pain free and have no exercise limitations. Keeping your pet active throughout all of their life stages offers numerous physical and mental benefits, and our Animal Emergency Care team describes these five pawsitive effects.
#1: Active pets have improved mental health and behavior
Pets who do not engage in regular activity or pets who do not have access to a variety of toys or enrichment tools such as a Kong or puzzle toy may behave inappropriately because they are bored. Unfortunately, that can lead to accidents or aggressive behavior. Pets who are sedentary have an increased risk of depression and a decreased overall quality of life. Despite summertime heat, winter cold, or a challenging work schedule, you can ensure your pet’s body and brain remain active and stimulated with a little creativity. The following activities will improve your pet’s mental health:
- Playing indoor fetch using soft toys that will not damage any household items
- Playing tug-of-war with a rope or other toy
- Providing cat toys such as feather wands which promote natural stalking behavior
- Hiding small portions of your pet’s food or treats in different areas of the house for them to seek
- Placing food treats in puzzle bowls or toys such as a Kong to encourage problem-solving skills
#2: Keeping active with your pet strengthens your bond
The love of a furry companion is a special and enriching experience that has been proven to increase human quality of life. The human-animal bond is equally important for your pet’s well-being and overall health. Designate daily bonding time with your pet such as a visit to the dog park, a hike on your local trail, or a walk around your neighborhood. It can be challenging to stay active with your feline companion because most will not walk on a leash. However, teaching your cat a new trick such as fetching their favorite toy mouse for a treat reward is a great mental and physical workout for them. Pets thrive on routine, and establishing a daily playtime or exercise routine will improve their emotional well-being.
#3: Active pets are less likely to be overweight
It can be hard to resist your pet’s begging eyes for an extra treat or the last bite of your steak dinner. However, too many treats can be dangerous for their health. Pet obesity has become an epidemic with more than 50% of dogs and cats in the United States overweight or obese. Excess weight can decrease your pet’s life span by two years or more and increase the chances they will develop arthritis, stiff joints, and other health problems including diabetes. Managing your pet’s nutrition and helping them engage in an active lifestyle will help ensure they maintain a healthy weight.
#4: Active pets have improved overall health
Numerous benefits exist for pets who are active daily. Regular exercise helps prevent a sedentary lifestyle and promote healthy weight management. While advances in veterinary medicine have resulted in pets living longer, ensuring they remain active will increase the chances of them remaining by your side into their grey muzzle years. Other health benefits for active pets include:
- Increased joint mobility
- Decreased incidence of arthritis
- Improved cardiovascular function
- Improved muscle tone
- Improved digestion
#5: Active pets have improved sleep patterns
Pets who have frequent late-night zoomies or who enjoy late-night games of playing with their toys may have a disrupted sleep pattern because of pent-up energy. Random bursts of energy can be a normal behavior for many pets. However, if your pet has an increased frequency of zoomie behavior or if they have an abundance of energy at the end of the day, then it may be a sign they need more daily exercise or playtime. Daily physical activity aids in ensuring your pet has a regular, restful sleep which is a vital component of their overall health. Bring your pet in for a veterinary examination if they are experiencing abnormal sleeping patterns to ensure they do not have any underlying medical problems.
Call Animal Emergency Care if you have questions about starting a daily activity routine for your pet. Make an appointment for your pet with your family veterinarian before they start an exercise routine, and bring them to our hospital if they get into trouble after hours. #AECprevents