How To Slim Down Your Pet

Marycke Ackhurst, pet behaviour expert says when ‘attention is too much food and not enough exercise, then it can become a weight problem which can lead to serious health issues’.

While you think it might be difficult to fit that extra chore to get your four-legged friend more exercise, you can actually easily incorporate it into your life. And you can even benefit from the exercise too!

For dogs:

  • Instead of a leisurely stroll, why not pick up the pace a little and get your and your dog’s heart rate going, which will help the extra-layers melt away? Adding a little ‘resistance training’ by walking on different surfaces or climbing over tree trunks or benches.
  • 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. Remember to alternate arms so that you can get a good arm workout in the process.

  • 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. Swimming is great exercise for older pets, as it puts less impact on their joints. (Never leave your pet in water unattended and ensure that they know how to get out by themselves should they need to).

  • If your dog is a good walker, why not take him with you when you go jogging or cycling as long as it is in a safe environment for him to do so.

  • If your dog’s fitness is a little questionable, why not build them up to a jog or cycle with you by increasing distance and speed over time? Always make sure this is done in a safe environment and don’t allow your dog off his leash in traffic-heavy areas. Even the most well-trained dogs can take fright.
  • Take care when jogging with your dog on hot pavements or roads in summer. Rather run on grass, rub on Paws Wax or put on booties.
  • Remember just like jogging on hard surfaces can be hard on your joints – so can it be for your dog.
  • Monitor your dog’s energy levels and let them rest when they need it.

For cats:

  • 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. Your cat will love this quality time with you and won’t even realise that they are exercising.

  • When feeding your cat, change her feeding place on a regular basis so that she can ‘hunt’ for her food. Placing the food on a raised area will also make her work that little bit harder.

Of course let’s not forget about the other essential part of keeping your pet slim: What you are feeding your pet, and how much. If you are unsure of how much you should be dishing up, ask your vet who can guide you on the correct quantity for your pet.

However, before you start any new exercise regime be sure to consult your vet and start your pet off slowly to ease them into their new active lifestyle. “There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration before adding new exercises, such as their age, fitness level and breed. Some pets are not able to handle certain types of exercise, but will thrive on others,” says Ackhurst.