Overweight dogs and cats are on the rise in America today, contributing to the ever-expanding obesity epidemic in our country. Canines and cats are facing some of the same health threats as humans when it comes to packing on those extra pounds.
The APOP (Association for Pet Obesity Prevention) estimates that a whopping 54% of dogs and an alarming 58% of cats are considered overweight or obese in the United States. While the solution to this problem may seem simple enough, again similar to their human counterparts, animals need to eat less and move more in order to lose weight.
While walking the dog and playing with the cat seem like simple solutions, those types of activities might not offer enough movement to make a difference when it comes to their (or your) weight.
Here are 3 unusual ways to get your pet moving more.
- Harness That Energy
Most dogs do well walking on leashes and for little dogs, walking them around the neighborhood might be enough. For bigger dogs, consider teaching them to run alongside your bike to help them get the exercise they need. Just be sure to be safe and consider using something like this WalkyDog.
Cats are often smarter than we given them credit for – some people are training their felines to use the toilet (and even flush) rather than using a litter box. Getting a cat to wear a harness and walk on a leash isn’t that much bigger of a step than wearing a collar.
While it might take a little effort and patience on your part, it will be worth the investment in the long run. Especially for indoor cats, taking them on a daily walk will benefit both of you.
- Interactive Options
There’s a video circulating on the internet of a rescue dog happily playing with his “fetch machine,” and this brings up an important exercise option. Although it’s better for you to participate in an exercise regime with your animal, interactive toys are a great option for pets to remain active in your absence.
While a cat may not be interested in a self-fetch gadget, try searching the internet for “interactive cat toys” and you’ll see a number of different options to keep fluffy involved and engaged. Puzzles and teasers are often enough to keep a curious cat active when you’re not around.
Or make your own interactive cat box with some planning, patience, and a ping-pong ball.
- Walking & Running
Although they’re a little pricey, they do make these exercise wheels for cats, similar to the ones seen in hamster cages, that allow them to run off some steam. The trick, similar to training a kitty to walk on a leash, is training them to use the device.
For dogs, as many of us have seen in various internet videos, they can use a treadmill just like their two-legged counterparts. According to Tyler Muto, dog trainer, even the most stubborn and stressed of canines can be trained to walk on a treadmill. In this video, a short twelve-minute time investment, he shared how he got three different rescue dogs who were training-resistant to use a treadmill.
You should always consult with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet or exercise regime. Depending on their current age, weight, health and other factors, your animal’s doctor will likely agree that more movement will be better for them in the long run.
EDITOR’S NOTE: There’s a new guide to the benefits of exercise for your dog over on TheDogClinic.com that can help you figure out why exercise is important for dogs and just how much exercise your dog really needs each day. Check out How Much Exercise Does My Dog Need Each Day.
For cats, it’s not quite as complicated, but there’s a really good article over on CatWisdom 101 where Dr. Letrisa Miller, an award-winning veterinarian with more than ten years experience as a feline-only practitioner, answers answers the question, How Much Exercise Do Cats Need Daily?