Just like people, pets can have trouble losing weight. If your furry friend has packed on an extra pound or two (or three!) this year, consider making a New Year’s resolution to help him or her get more exercise in 2016.
How do you know if your pet is overweight?
Observe your pet from a few feet away. If you see ribs protruding from this distance, your pet may be underweight. If you cannot see your pet’s ribs, you should still be able to feel ribs through the skin. If you must press your fingers into the side of your pet’s chest to feel ribs, your pet may be carrying some extra weight around.
If you suspect your pet may be overweight, consult your veterinarian. It is important to speak with your vet before placing your pet on a diet as rapid weight loss can be dangerous for animals if not executed properly.
Exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle for pets, and people, too, and can help your furry family member shed extra weight. Keep reading for exercise ideas to get your four-legged friends moving.
Your cat may not want to head out on a walk with you, but there are other options for getting your feline in fantastic shape:
• Provide a variety of interactive toys to increase your cat’s level of physical activity.
• Consider adopting a younger cat or kitten as a companion for your older cat to increase active play.
• Motivate your purry friend to move with motorized toys and laser pointers.
• Actively play with your cat at home — not only is playtime provide good exercise but it is also essential mental stimulation needed for a feeling of well-being for both you and your feline companion.
Walk for a Dog
Get in shape with your pooch while helping pets in need!
Download the free Wooftrax “Walk for a Dog” app on your smartphone. Select the Lawrence Humane Society as your shelter of choice and Wooftrax will donate to help Lawrence and Douglas County shelter pets every time you use the app when walking with (or without) your pup!
Dogs make great workout companions. Try these options to help your hound lose a pound:
• Hit the great outdoors with activities like walking, jogging, frisbee and fetch.
• Get your dog into a playgroup with other dogs — it may be a great way for your pup to socialize while burning extra calories.
• Regular trips to the dog park provide open spaces to run, and are another excellent source of enrichment and socialization for your dog
Start your new exercise regimen slowly. For example, begin with a short walk once or twice per day. As your pet becomes accustomed to more activity, you can slowly increase the length and duration of exercise to prevent over-exertion.
If your pet is older and is exhibiting shortness of breath and/or coughing during physical activity, have him examined by a veterinarian for underlying problems such as heart disease. If your older pet exhibits joint pain, your veterinarian can help tailor a pain-management plan so that it can become more active. Overall, weight reduction through physical activity will reduce the pain of arthritis over time by reducing stress on the joints.
Getting pets more exercise can be beneficial for everyone in your family. This New Year make the commitment to get you and our pets moving!
— Jennifer Stone is the medical director and staff veterinarian at the Lawrence Humane Society. She has been a shelter veterinarian for more than a decade.