What a year! A year of mobility and activity restrictions that not only affect the human species, but also pets. As veterinarians and animal health vigilantes, it is our role not only to treat cases of injury or illness, but also to advise pet owners on how to avoid them. In this article we review the benefits of keeping pets active and some tips that you can give your clients to achieve it.
Like people, animals need a minimum of physical activity to keep their musculoskeletal tissues in good condition and function. Therefore, it is very important that both dogs and cats carry out daily physical activities. This physical activity will depend on age, breed and health state. But in general, about 30 minutes of activity is recommended, whether it is a walk or even a bit more intense exercise.
What are the benefits of physical activity?
- Body weight control: an active pet will be less prone to obesity. It is important that physical exercise is also accompanied by a suitable diet for the pet.
- Prevents joint diseases: keeping the joints moving allows them to remain lubricated and in good functional condition. Obviously, physical activity will be limited if the disease already exists, but even in these pets, exercises are necessary to keep the muscles that support those joints active. In these cases, it is important to adapt the exercise to a low-impact one (walks, swimming, etc.)
- Maintains muscles active: as animals age, mobility also decreases. Keeping their muscles in good condition is key to maintaining muscle mass, which in turn allows to maintain the strength to support other structures.
- Strengthens bone structures: although it is true that high-impact exercise is not the best for the bones, a minimum of stress is necessary for the osteoblasts to fulfil their function. Regular exercise, not excessive, allows to maintain the bone structure in the best possible state.
- Avoid bad behaviour / destructive behaviour: the pet that does not exercise or that does not have any stimulus for long periods becomes bored. And that generates changes in behaviour, often tending to the destruction of things or furniture, “going” at inappropriate times or places, even some aggressiveness may appear. Physical activity avoids these bad behaviours and vices that can be generated by boredom.
Another benefit of exercise is the release of endorphins, which are responsible for making us feel good (and pets too). Therefore, exercise is also very important to maintain the mental health and well-being of the animals.
What to recommend to the pet owner?
Whether it is a dog or a cat, there are many activities that can be done inside and outside the home. Here are some ideas:
- Going for a walk: not only to allow the pet, in this case the dog, to make its basic needs. Even if the house is one with a large garden, going for walks outside, better if it’s more than one walk, allows the pet to be in a different environment and socialize with other dogs. Socializing is also part of their education, so it is important to do it from a very young age.
- Walk through the mountains or the beach: if there is an opportunity, taking the animals to other natural environments not only puts them in contact with other surroundings but also allows them to work out more intensively (without ever going too far!). Always remember to advise owners to bring hydration and protect the paws if the floor is too uneven.
- Outdoor sports: dogs can also be very good company, even become athletes themselves, in sports such as cycling or running. In these cases, it should also be reminded that the animal must have a proper training and adjustment process to exercise, as well as maintain hydration and nutrition accordingly.
- Going up and down stairs: it is an excellent exercise to keep the muscles active. It is important not to force the exercise too much.
- Play seek the ball, chase a toy: besides being something fun, it is an activity that maintains the mental activity of the animals.
- Gyms for cats: there are infinite options of shapes and sizes of gyms for cats. The important thing is that it fits the size of the cat and its capabilities.
Integrate INDIBA Animal Health in the maintenance of pets’ health
We have to mention that INDIBA Animal Health is an excellent tool to mantain any pet, whether it is an athlete or not, as it helps to treat contractures, trigger points, mobility problems or pain due to joint disease. This treatment can be done routinely in geriatric pets or with chronic degenerative diseases to reduce pain or improve range of motion and flexibility, or for a tune-up of your most athletic clients.
Last, but not least, remind your clients that keeping the pet active is a family mission. All members of the family can participate and make those long days at home more enjoyable!
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