Just as exercise is important to your overall health and well
being as it is for your pet as well. Regular exercise stimulates
all tissues and increases circulation. This helps oxygenate the
body and cleanse the cells of the body of toxins. It also helps
your pet's digestive glands secrete their fluids better and the
bowels move more easily. Exercise is especially important in your
pet's weight loss plan as the only practical way to increase energy
expenditure and therefore encourage weight loss. It is important to
find an exercise or two that you and your pet enjoy so that you can
do it every day. There are many ways you can help your pet
Dogs: Take a hike!
The best overall exercise for your dog is leash walking by your
side at a moderate pace. The sidewalk or park path is your dog's
version of the treadmill you may exercise on at the gym. If you are
just starting on an exercise program with your pet you want to
start with short walks and gradually increase the length. The
optimal amount of time has not been determined by research, but
many owners have reported that two 20-minute walks per day keep
their pet in good health and helps achieve weight loss. Some owners
have also reported that a long walk of approximately one hour is
also beneficial and enjoyable. You need to tailor your walking time
to what your veterinarian has recommended, what your pet can
comfortably handle, and your schedule. Your walks with your dog
should be a pleasant time shared together, not a chore that you
rush through. Your dog will benefit not only from the exercise, but
from the extra time he or she gets to spend with you each day.
Swimming is another great exercise for your dog, especially if
he or she has an orthopedic problem that may make him or her sore
if they walked for longer periods of time. Fifteen-45 minutes of
swimming seems to be beneficial for overall health and weight loss.
You can keep your dog swimming by throwing a ball or other favorite
toy (that floats!) for him or her to swim after. Keep a close eye
on your pet though and if he or she seems to be getting tired, stop
them from swimming. It is always a good idea to only let your pet
swim in water that is no deeper than your chest just in case you
need to assist your pet.
If you cannot walk or swim your dog for some reason there are
many games you can play with your pet. The goal is to keep him or
her moving for at least 20 minutes. You can: toss a ball; throw a
frisbee; play a game of tag where your pet is "it"; play 'soccer'
with your pet -- have him or her chase a ball as you kick it around
the yard; use your imagination to come up with new games!
Another activity you can do with your pet that is great exercise
is agility training. This type of training teaches your dog to go
up, around and through many different kinds of obstacles. It is a
growing dog sport all over the world, but many people are training
their pet just for fun. Check out the information page to find out
Cats: Catch me if you can!
Helping your cat exercise definitely takes some creativity and
usually some trial and error to find out what kind of games your
Just as with dogs, your goal is to keep your cat moving for at
least 20 minutes. One of the most popular and cat-accepted toys
available is a simple laser pointer. Most cats cannot resist
chasing that little red dot as you make it magically move across
the carpet. In addition to laser pointers the pet stores are full
of interactive toys that cats love to chase. Many of these toys
have feathers or shiny foil that are fun for your cat to play with,
but make sure they are put in a drawer or closet when you are not
playing so your cat doesn't risk ingesting them. The most important
part of helping your cat exercise is that it needs to be
interactive-- that means you are a part of the game. Just buying
your cat a furry catnip mouse and leaving it around for them to
play with is not enough. You need to get your cat moving and keep
him or her moving. Play time is also great bonding time for you and
your cat and many owners report a closer relationship with their
cat after they start a regular play program.
Michael S. Hand, Craig D. Thatcher, Rebecca L. Remillard, and
Philip Roudebush, editors. WJ Burkholder and PW Toll. Chapter 13
Obesity: Exercise. Small Animal Clinical Nutrition 4th Edition.