And so it begins. 2019.
And with it, for many people, comes new year’s resolutions. The most popular of these usually include weight loss, healthy rating and other lifestyle improvements. While most people focus on themselves, there is certainly no need to leave your pet out of the resolutions, especially as they can not only support you in your journey, but the likelihood is they could also benefit from the improved lifestyle as well.
For this week we will focus on exercise and next week we will turn our attention to diet and eating habits. As well, if you haven’t seen last week’s blog on keeping your dog’s safe while exercising in the cold weather, then it is definitely a good idea to go back and review it after you finish here.
As for us hoomans exercise must be increased slowly and steadily in order to help avoid injury. It is no different for our dogs and other pets. If your pup is outdoors a lot and has continued to be very active through the fall then they will be able to tolerate an increase in exercise fairly easily. However, if your dog hasn’t been out much since the summer, or if they are older or have any joint related concerns, then it is not time to go straight to long walks or runs. No need for the “weekend warrior” otherwise your chances of both injury and lack of long term commitment increase dramatically. It is far easier on your dog’s joints to start with shorter frequent walks and then to slowly build those up in duration. Unless you are very prepared for the conditions (with appropriate footwear etc) then we do not recommend running in the winter due to the risk of falls on the ice and snow. Another great idea is to use the cool weather to explore local walkways or hiking trails that may be too buggy or busy to allow exploration in the warmer weather. Keep it interesting and start exploring together!
So what about the days that are truly too cold for either you or your dog, or what about our cats? Then it’s time to get creative! For small dogs then games of chase, fetch or tag are great, and may utilize some of your pups new Christmas toys. Our cats tend to either be ground hunters and love the laser pointers and kickaroos, or air hunters and would delight in wand toys or having balls thrown into the air. For the food motivated pets then using kibbles to play hide and seek or fetch can be a great way to keep them moving inside. If you are ok with your cats climbing on various surfaces then you can even divide your cats meals into 6-8 small portions and hide them around the house to encourage them to “hunt” for it.
Either inside or out there are many ways to get creative so that both you and your pet can meet your New Year’s Resolution of adding exercise to your lifestyle. And as always remember that for any questions that may come up, the vets at Healthy Pets are just a phone call away. Happy Exercising!