Exercise Tips for Dieting Pets

Exercise is a vital component of any weight loss programme and the same applies to pets. Many of us believe that if we have sufficient garden space or a multiple pet household, that our animals will keep active on their own or entertain one another. Unfortunately this is not the case.

Your veterinary healthcare team may help set up exercise programme for your pet, but there are some general points to remember about exercise.

  • Ask your vet or an animal physiotherapist for advice. Getting an exercise programme tailored for your pet’s individual needs is always best.
  • Don’t do too much too quickly. Let your pet warm up gently and only increase exercise gradually as fitness improves.
  • Make use of daily opportunities to give your pet exercise and stimulation. It can be as simple as encouraging your pet to go up and down the stairs with you or asking him to follow you around the garden when you are watering.
  • Make sure it’s fun. Try exercising your pet with family members and other pets.
  • If you’re unable to exercise your pet yourself, why not consider a dog walker.
  • Change your mindset and use exercise and games to treat your pet.
  • Here are some of our favourite exercise tips for dogs and cats.

Here are some of our favourite exercise tips for dogs and cats.

Exercises for your Dog

  • Regular walk - take your dog to the park or along the street.
  • Resistance walk - if possible, make your pet walk on different surfaces such as sand, shallow water of fallen leaves.
  • Enhanced walk - when out walking, use obstacles such as benches, trees, ditches or fallen tree trunks as a natural obstacle course to jump over, crawl under or balance on.
Fun and Games
  • Fetch - always a firm favourite! Throwing a ball or toy is a great exercise for your dog – and not too strenuous for you. For a more challenging game of fetch, use steep banks (outdoors) or stairs (indoors) for increased resistance.
  • Hide and Seek - hide a toy or some kibbles and let your dog find it.
  • Jogging and Cycling - take your dog along with you.
  • Swimming or Hydrotherapy - ideal for dogs with arthritis or back problems. Ask your vet for advice about hydrotherapy.
  • Obstacle Courses - indoors or outdoors, set up low hurdles (use a broom stick across two objects), tunnels (these are available from pet shops, or use cardboard boxes) and a slalom course (set objects like buckets one meter apart) to exercise your dog.
  • Massage and stretching - warms up muscles, releases tension and stimulates blood circulation. And your dog will love it!

Exercises for your Cat

Cats may not be getting sufficient exercise, particularly those with an indoor lifestyle. Here are some ideas to boost the activity level of your cat.

  • Walking on a harness – This isn’t for everyone and it may require some practice but cat harnesses are available at most vet shops so that you can walk your cat safely.
  • Enhanced walk – when out walking, encourage jumping and active play using natural “toys” such as leafy twigs or piles of leaves.
Fun and Games
  • Toys – there are loads of commercially available toys that encourage active play. Even better, get the kids together to make a “cat toy”. Ping pong balls or even a scrunched piece of paper work a treat.
  • Boxing – cats just love climbing in an out of an empty box or paper bag.
  • Massage and stretching – warms up muscles, releases tension and stimulated blood circulation. Frequent grooming may also help.
  • Hunting – feed your cat in different places each day to make him hunt for it. Make him work harder by using obstacles or feeding from tall furniture or shelves.

Exercising and playing games with your pet are both great ways to strengthen your bond, keep them fit and healthy and to reward them.