Summertime and the livin’ is easy according to the lyrics of the famous George Gershwin song. It’s also a great time to get outdoors and exercise with our pets.
Recently, Purina veterinarian Dr Kurt Venator invited me to attend a Google Hangout to discuss the benefits of exercise for both our cats and dogs.
Granted, we all know that exercise is good for us and is a great way to stay healthy. And the same goes for our pets. Interestingly, a recent survey conducted by Penn Schoen Berland of Washington, D.C. for Nestlé Purina showed that we humans are more likely to exercise if we have a dog to accompany us. That makes good sense. They are always willing to go out and don’t complain about feeling tired or having a headache to get out of the commitment as a human walking companion may do!
The first thing we think of with regard to exercise and our pets is of course keeping a healthy weight. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), an estimated 58 percent of cats and 54 percent of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese. With routine exercise, pet owners can help reduce the risk of health issues in their pets and help them live longer and healthier lives overall.
However, it’s really important to know your pets’ strengths and weaknesses before planning a exercise routine. You have to take age, and general health into account and in fact the best thing to do is to consult with a veterinarian before creating a customized fitness routine.
“And remember,” advised Dr. Kurt, “that implementing exercise into a pet’s life should be a gradual process.”
Another often-overlooked benefit of regular exercise for pets is that it’s also a great way to beat stress and fight off anxiety too. A dog that has been taken for a long walk before its owners goes off to work may be happy to return home and snooze when they leave instead of pacing anxiously after the front doors closes and their favorite person leaves.
The current trend to wear fitness trackers is being mimicked for dogs and cats too and it’s a great way to keep track of their activity levels so that you can gradually improve their level of fitness and good health.
Dr Kurt stressed the point of incorporating activities that are enjoyable.
“Pet owners should set aside time every day to exercise their pet. Examples include going for a walk or hike, playing catch or even chasing a laser pointer,” he said.
Cats of course love chasing bugs on the end of wand toys along with various toys that roll and make noises that alert their prey drive. For obese cats that need more activity even carrying them to the farthest point in the house from their food bowl and making them walk there will increase their activity level! Dr Kurt even advised making them “work” for their food by jumping up to a counter to access a food bowl. And if you like to keep cats off counters, there are now stylish cat trees that incorporate a feeding station on an upper level.
And exercise is not only about physical wellbeing; but about mental health too.
“Pet owners should also be looking for ways to keep their pets mentally sharp. Food puzzle toys are great for stimulating the brain through problem solving,” he said.
“Keep in mind that a pet’s health does not solely depend on exercise,” he added. “Fitness must be accompanied by a balanced diet for overall good health. In addition to consulting with a veterinarian about physical activities, pet owners should also discuss their pets’ diet and nutritional needs. Purina recognizes the importance of a well-balanced diet for pets and has a dedicated team of more than 500 scientists, including veterinarians and nutritionists paving the way for innovative nutritional discoveries that better the lives of pets.”
Finally it’s always important to take the weather in account with regard to outdoor exercise. During the hot summer weather, sidewalks are far too hot for pets to walk on without burning their paw pads. So consider taking them out early morning or late afternoon. If there is a pet friendly indoor mall, this is a great place to go for a walk and window shop! The same applies to cold winter weather too.
You will lots more good healthy living lifestyle and nutritional tips by visiting http://www.Purina.com
This post was sponsored by the Nestle Purina PetCare Company. However, all opinions are my own. I only write about topics, events and products that I consider readers will consider useful information and relevant to their interests.