Question of the Week: How can I keep my pet healthy for 2013?

A New Year means new resolutions:  January is National Walk Your Pet Month!Whether it’s a healthier lifestyle, finally finishing an old project, or catching up with family and friends more often, we do our best to stick to them for as long as we can.  But we can’t forget about our pets when making resolutions for the New Year!  January is National Walk Your Pet Month—a perfect start to the new, healthier year for your pet.  Here are some benefits to keeping your cat or dog active:

  • Improves strength, fitness, flexibility and movement
  • Increases energy levels
  • Helps decrease stress and can help improve you and your pets mood
  • Improves sleep
  • Prevents boredom
  • Decreases bad behavior
  • Improves the bond between you and your pet
  • Prevents obesity

 

Cats

While cat-walking is not common, every feline needs plenty of exercise!  Cats need at least 15-20 minutes of exercise per day.  Since they are naturally nocturnal animals (mostly sleeping during the day and are most active at night), it’s important to train them to play and exercise during the day so you may both sleep at night.

A cat’s favorite activities include  stalking, pouncing, climbing and hiding.  Switch out their toys frequently, either with new ones or keeping old ones hidden for several weeks so they become “new” to them, so they don’t become bored.  Read our Question of the Week: Should I let my cat go outside? for more information about how to keep your feline entertained.

Dogs

Walking your dog is a great way to bond with them.  The venture gives them a chance to explore and be social with others, and it doesn’t cost a dime!  If you’ve made a resolution to get healthier through exercise, then walking with your dog is a great way to keep moving.

It’s also important to remember that the amount of exercise for each type of dog is different, and you should speak to your veterinarian before choosing a new activity for your dog.  Low energy dogs like Bulldogs or dogs over seven years of age only need about 30 minutes of exercise a day and this is usually in the form of slow, short walks or swimming.  Medium-energy dogs, like German shepherds or Maltese terriers, need about 2 hours of exercise a day in the form of medium-paced walks or agility.  High-energy dogs. like Border collies or Dalmatians. need about three hours of exercise a day.

Remember to follow these safety tips to ensure you and your pet are guarded when exercising:

  • Do not let your dog jump on people
  • Always keep the pet properly leashed to avoid accidents
  • If the pet is not good with other dogs or people, say so to avoid an issue
  • Always pick up pet waste and dispose of it properly
  • Supervise pets around children
  • Do not overexercise an under active pet; instead, gradually build endurance
  • Bring fresh water on long walks
  • Know the law on pets in local areas
  • Avoid walks in inclement weather
  • Make sure the pet is wearing proper identification

 

Resources:

  1. http://www.mypetsavings.com/2011/12/january-is-national-walk-your-pet-month.html
  2. http://westvet.net/blog/post/january-is-national-walk-your-pet-month-get-fit-together
  3. http://www.animalmedical.net/blog/2012/01/january-is-walk-your-pet-month/