Pets nowadays may suffer from the same laziness some of us humans are prone to. Because our domestic pets no longer need to hunt for their food and are given instant shelter and their own territory, they may just be a little out of practice when it comes to exercising.
Older pets, just like us humans, will often slow down as their bodies become stiffer and less supple with problems like arthritis and a lack of energy-giving hormones.
(Photo by stoicviking)
That said, you needn’t worry, because your pets don’t have to succumb to their age or be labeled as lazy for good. There are, in fact, a few things you can do to help your companion remain as fit and healthy as possible for as long as possible.
We must remember that our pets have distinctly different personalities, and it’s not just a case of whether they are a dog or a cat. When it comes to playing with toys, some pets love them and others just aren’t that fussed. A neat little trick to entice your pet to play with a toy is to give them an extra reason to.
Cats love their catnip, so you could buy or make a toy filled with it and similarly for dogs, you could fill their toy with, say, dog biscuits or whatever their favourite treat tends to be. If they have to play with a toy and work out how to get at their treats on a regular basis, not only will it keep their body engaged, but it will do their brains a world of good too.
Bear in mind that our pets are clever too – they’ll soon work out exactly what to do and get bored unless you mix it up a bit. Remember to check out PDSA or RSPCA guidelines on healthy treats and diet to ensure that you don’t over-treat your pet.
Rewards for Tricks
Another great way to engage your pet would be to teach it tricks, rewarding success with treats or attention. Tricks will ensure that you play regularly with your pet and it’ll be jumping, rolling around, lying down and dancing with you in no time. Teach your cat to leap from surface to surface, or your dog to run an obstacle course with the encouragement of a treat or a loving belly rub.
Attention works better than foodie treats, simply because it means that you’re not regularly feeding them unhealthy snacks and it’ll serve to strengthen the bond between you both. It’s just a matter of finding out what they like best of all.
When pets get older, sometimes having another, younger pet around would do them a world of good. Giving an old or docile dog a young puppy friend, for example, will keep it on its toes and will stimulate it to play with its new chum.
Walking your Pet
Monkey see, monkey do. This is especially true in the case of dogs but can be applied to many larger pets too. Even if you all you do is go for a short walk around your locality or the local park, it will do your pet a great service. If your pet is simply lazy and you’re capable of a little bit of a jog, then get out there with them!
If your dog is just a bit old and weary, take it easier, but don’t cut out walking altogether – activity is the key to ensure that they don’t just seize up. A cat harness will also enable you to take your cat out for walks and they’ll be far more stimulated by the outside world than your living room, so this is a sure-fire way to get them excited and moving about.
If you or your cat isn’t so keen on that idea, then walking around the house with them or playing with toys with them is a great alternative to getting them moving.
Again, like some humans, your pet just might not be inclined towards movement and exercise and in these more extreme cases it’s very important that you adhere to veterinary guidelines regarding diet and try and engage them in as much interesting exercise as you possibly can.