While it may not feel like it now, before we know it summer will be here, meaning there’s no better time than the present to get yourself and your furry friend into shape. Plus, Friday, 11 October marks World Obesity Day so it’s the perfect time to get active.
“Pet parents take pride and joy in knowing that the love and attention they give their pets can be seen by others,” says Marycke Ackhurst, pet behaviour expert from Hill’s Pet Nutrition. “Hearing your pet is overweight can be more heartbreaking than hearing it about yourself. We often think that the more we treat them, the more we love them. “However, when that attention is too much food and not enough exercise, it can lead to serious health issues.”
The challenge can lie in trying to schedule exercise time into our already jam-packed lives. Try Marycke’s tips to better exercise habits:
- Instead of a leisurely stroll, pick up the pace a little and get your and your dog’s heart rate going, to help the extra-layers melt away. Adding a little “resistance training” by walking on different surfaces or climbing over tree trunks or benches is also recommended.
- Do you have stairs at home? Get your dog to follow you up and down them a few times a day. If they need some persuasion, throw their favourite toy up and down the stairs, creating a fun game.
- If you have access to a swimming pool, dam, river or the beach, and your dog is water happy, this is a great way to get them to exercise and have fun at the same time. Never leave your pet in water unattended and ensure that they know how to get out by themselves should they need to. Swimming is great for older pets, as it puts less impact on their joints.
- Cats love toys and playing, so having these easily accessible encourages her to play and keep active. Some great options are – balls, ping pong balls, or even a scrunched-up piece of paper. A wand, cat tickler and high scratch post encourages hunting, running and jumping.
- Boxes are also entertaining for cats. You can place these around the house and encourage them to climb in and out of an empty box.
- Many cats love playing hide and seek. Hide their toy and have them run through the house to find it.
- When feeding your cat, change her feeding place on a regular basis so that she can ‘hunt’ for her food.