The Importance of Exercise
It’s no secret that exercise has a tremendous effect on our health. These days, medical professionals cannot stress enough the benefits of a regular exercise program:
• Controls weight
• Increases energy
• Improves circulation
• Enhances lung capacity
• Oxygenates blood
• Improves heart rate
• Builds strong muscles
• Increases joint mobility
• Improves your mood
• Helps with sleep
The list goes on and on…
You may not have given it much thought, but our pets reap the same benefits as we do when it comes to exercise. A regular exercise program can help burn nervous energy and reduce boredom for your pet, making them less likely to destroy that cherished briefcase or favorite pair of shoes. Your cat may run through the house or bat around a toy on its own, and your dog may chase a squirrel in the backyard or play with his ball. But, this is the extent of their exercise program without the help of their owner. That’s why it’s up to us as their caretakers to make sure they are getting the exercise they need.
Don’t worry, you will have no whining, lame excuses or belly aching to deal with from your pets. The whole process is playtime in their minds and the bond that grows between you and your pet when you increase their “playtime” will make them love you all the more.
Be sure to consult with your veterinarian before you begin. Different pets have different needs when it comes to exercise. Large dogs are going to vary from small dogs, as will older animals from younger animals. Plus, the vet can give your pet a routine examination to make sure their health is good and it’s safe to proceed with your exercise routine.
Please keep in mind, too, that if your pet isn’t used to exercising, you will need to start out slowly and gradually increase over time. Just like people, pets can get sore muscles and strained joints or ligaments if they overexert themselves.
Exercising Your Dog
It’s a good idea to start with a moderately paced walk or swim for dogs, giving them a chance to build strength and stamina without straining muscles. Start with 10-15 minutes a day and gradually increase time and distance as the dog gets a little more accustomed to it.
Always keep an eye out for signs of fatigue and trouble breathing �” excessive panting, rapid heart rate. And, be sure to keep plenty of water on hand. By all means, if your dog wants to stop, let him. That is a strong sign that he has had enough. Please keep in mind that most dogs love to burn energy and because of their enthusiasm and willingness to please their owner, they may not stop until it’s too late. Therefore, it’s very important to watch and know when enough is enough.
To keep things interesting, you may want to vary their forms of activity; walking, swimming, jogging, playing ball or chasing a Frisbee are great ways to keep them enthused. For a real change of pace, take your dog to the dog park to play with other dogs. He’ll not only burn lots of calories, but he’ll get to socialize and make new friends, as well.
As a safety precaution, allow your dog to walk or jog on soft surfaces in the beginning. Soft or tender pads can become sore or tear under stress. Make sure nails are trimmed so they won’t hang or rip. And, always keep your dog on a leash to avoid traffic or other, more aggressive dogs.
If you exercise at night, consider a reflective collar or light on your dog, as well as a bright colored or reflective leash that is visible to passersby. You’ll want to wear white or light colored clothing yourself to make sure you can be seen by others.
Exercising Your Cat
Getting your cat the exercise he needs is a bit more challenging than with your dog. Some cats can be trained to walk on a leash, but for most this is not a viable solution. Seeing that cats are designed different from dogs, short frequent periods of intense activity are more beneficial to a cat than slower-paced exercise sessions.
There are a lot of wonderful toys available to help keep your cat active. But before you spend a lot of money, you might look around the house. Many times, you’ll find plenty of things around the house to create hours of entertainment for your cat. Basically, cats like to climb, bat, chase, explore and scratch. So, if you work these elements into their routine, you should have some success.
A kitty cat tower (available at pet stores), boxes, suit cases and paper sacks can provide hours of pleasure for your cat. For batting practice, a shiny ball, stuffed mouse, old sock or wadded up piece of paper should do the trick. As for the chase, a string or laser pointer can work wonderfully. And, a scratching post, piece of cardboard or carpet will satisfy the itch to scratch. You definitely don’t want to discourage your cat from scratching. This scratching motion will stretch and tone your cat’s shoulder muscles. But more importantly, it will keep his claws active so that he is less inclined to shred your furniture.
For an interesting change of pace, you might consider walking or running up and down a flight of stairs or hallway with a string or rope attached to your belt loop. This will get the pulse rate up for both of you! Or, create a challenge for your cat by making him work for his dinner by putting small amounts of food on several plates and scattering them throughout the house at meal time. This will make your cat exercise in order to eat and freshen up some of those tracking skills.
Remember that exercise is every bit as vital to your pet’s health and well being as good food, clean water and shelter. A consistent exercise program will enhance your pet’s life in many ways. If your busy schedule finds you short on time, you might consider hiring a pet sitter. A pet sitter is more than happy to come out to your house and exercise your pets. They can walk or run with your dog, take him to the park or out to play ball in the back yard. They’ll even exercise and play with the cat. Your pets will absolutely love the extra attention and you’ll have peace of mind knowing that they’re getting the exercise they need.
We’ll love and care for your pets as if they were our own…
It’s our pleasure to walk your dog, play "chase the string" with your cat, or simply snuggle for awhile. Whatever your request, our professional pet sitters and dog walkers are happy to oblige.
Our services are performed with lots of hugs, kisses and reassurance so that your pet feels loved and comforted while you’re away.
We care for dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, hamsters, guinea pigs, fish, turtles? you name it; big or small, we love them all!
We understand your pets are part of the family? they'll be part of ours too!