Category Archives: Fitness

Tips and Tricks for a Great Game of Fetch

As summer shows hints of the cooler season to come, it’s the perfect time to play fetch with your dog! Fetch is great for exercise and for releasing your dog’s pent-up energy. Your dog might be a natural, or he might need some practice to grasp the game. Make fetch a part of your playtime repertoire with these tips from WebMD Pets and the American Kennel Club.

  • Start small, with quick indoor games of fetch. When you first take the game outside, choose a time when there aren’t other dogs or people around to minimize distractions.
  • Try modifying a tug-of-war game. After a short game of tug, toss the toy a few inches away so that your dog runs to it, then grab the toy and start another game. Throw it farther away each time. Tug on the toy when it’s in your dog’s mouth to encourage him to come back to you. This should eventually evolve into a fetch-like game. (Read more here.)
  • Or, try a treat-based approach for dogs reluctant to fetch. First, place the toy on the ground. When your dog looks at it, utilize clicker training and reward your dog with a treat. Continue to reward your dog with each interaction until he associates the two. Next, step up your game! Save rewards for when your dog sniffs the toy, puts his mouth on it, or picks it up. After your dog is reliably picking up the toy, encourage him to bring it back to you and reward him when he does. (Read more here.)
  • If your dog will chase a Frisbee, choose one specifically made for dogs so it won’t chip his chompers. Throw it lower to the ground so your dog isn’t jumping high into the air and risking injury.
  • End the fetch game while your dog still wants to play and isn’t bored.

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How to Safely Exercise Your Dog in Warmer Weather

As the warmer weather rolls in, you want to get outside and enjoy it. Of course, you love taking Fido with you! Just remember that while you can shed the layers of clothing you’ve bundled up in all winter, your dog doesn’t have that same advantage. Here are some tips from the ASPCA for exercising with your pet under a summer sun:

• Keep a close eye on your canine companion. If your pet seems tired and doesn’t want to continue exercising, don’t force her, and make sure she gets plenty of fresh, clean water.

• Watch for symptoms of overheating. Unlike humans, dogs don’t sweat, and they’re much closer to the hot pavement. If your pet is panting more than usual or having difficulty breathing, let him rest in the shade for a while.

• Stay indoors during the heat of the day. Exercise during the cooler times of the day for your dog’s comfort, such as around dawn, dusk, or in the evening.

• Swimming unsupervised isn’t safe. Not all pups can swim, so don’t leave your pet unattended around large bodies of water. If you’re out on a boat or in a deep pool, get her a life vest to ensure her safety.

• A dog’s fur helps regulate body temperature. Even if your dog has long hair, don’t just shave it off. His fur coat has layers to it, and removing them makes it more difficult for him to stay cool during the hot days and could lead to a painful sunburn.

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10 Ways to Comfort and Care for a Senior Pet

Is your pet in its golden years? You two have been through a lot together, and now you want to ensure that your pet is as comfortable and happy as possible. Or perhaps you’ve recently welcomed an older pet into your home – high-paw for you! The most important thing you can do for your senior pet is to schedule regular vet visits. Here are other ideas from PetMD and the AVMA.

1. Exercise

Keep your pet at a healthy weight, improve his mood, and stave off arthritis with exercise. PetMD recommends starting with walks of 10-15 minutes each, then gradually increasing the length. Keep in mind that regular, low-impact exercise is what your pet needs in his golden years, rather than strenuous activity. Consult your veterinarian if your pet has difficulty exercising.

2. Cushioned bedding

Has it been awhile since you updated your pet’s bedding? Remember that elderly pets may need extra or special bedding to cushion their achy joints. Consider an orthopedic pet bed to help soothe your pet’s aches, and make sure he can get in and out of it easily.

3. Heated bedding

While you’re on the search for new pet bedding, what about a pet bed that’s heated? A cozy, gently heated pet bed can provide therapeutic relief for achy elderly pets, or simply a warm place to nestle in during the winter. If an entirely new pet bed is not in your budget, consider a bed warmer, which is placed in the existing pet bed for toasty comfort.

4. Dental care

Take care of your pet’s chompers! If you brush your pet’s teeth regularly, keep up the good work. And if you’ve fallen behind, start with a vet exam and professional cleaning. If your pet can’t stand brushing, consider dental treats and toys.

5. High-quality diet

Feed your dog or cat healthy, nutrient-rich meals that are appropriate for his age and lifestyle. Consult your veterinarian about your pet’s dietary needs and stick to the plan, be it a low-sodium diet or one lower in calories.

6. Mental stimulation

Keep your pet’s mind sharp and prevent boredom with mental stimulation. Teach your pet new, low-impact tricks and engage him in interactive play. If he’s friendly and socialized, let him explore new places where pets are allowed. Stimulate his mind with new toys and food puzzles. Consider replacing old, hard toys with softer yet durable alternatives that are kinder to sensitive teeth and gums.

7. Physical contact

A little affection goes a long way! Boost your pet’s mood and increase the bond between pet and owner with physical contact. In addition to pats, snuggles, and belly rubs, remember to groom your pet to keep him looking and feeling his best.

8. Sweater or coat

Have you long-scoffed at dogs in clothes? Certainly, some breeds tolerate the cold better than others, and canine attire is not right for every dog. But senior pets can struggle with cold temperatures in drafty homes or during short trips outdoors. If your pet can tolerate clothing, he might be more comfortable with that extra insulating layer provided by a sweater or coat. Choose attire that’s easy to wash, and avoid itchy fabrics and ill-fitting garments; make sure your pet can move comfortably and won’t trip.

9. Easy accessibility

Find little ways to make everyday life easier on your senior pet. If she has difficulty climbing onto couches or beds (assuming she’s allowed) or into a vehicle, consider pet stairs or a pet ramp. Even something as simple as moving your cat’s litter box to an easy-to-access area can be helpful.

10. Carpeting over slippery floors

A young, acrobatic pet might rebound quickly from a slip or skid, but don’t expect the same from your senior pet. For him, a fall can be serious and reduce his quality of life. So take some precautionary measures, and add traction to slippery floors with rugs or carpeting. If this isn’t an option, consider outfitting him in non-slip dog socks that have a gripper surface on the bottom.

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Filed under Cats, Dogs, Fitness, Pet Beds, Pet Health, Pet Safety

Indoor Activities to Keep Your Pet Active During the Winter

Winter weather plays no favorites; two-legged or four, you’re going to be spending more time inside. If you’re tired of being cooped up, remember that your furry friend might be dealing with his own version of cabin fever. While he might not be able to roll around in the green grass after chasing after his favorite Frisbee, he can still stay alert and active indoors. Consider these indoor pet activities suggested by the ASPCA and PetMD.

Learning Stations
Create several “stations” in your home, with a different sign and pet command at each. Walk your dog to each station, and state the command or signal it. If he’s successful, he gets a treat! You’ll reinforce basic commands while your dog stays active.

Hide and Seek…Treats!
Clear out the breakables from one room, and get ready for a little game with your favorite furry pal. While your dog is out of the room, hide treats for him to find. PetMD suggests making the treats easy to find at first, then more difficult once your dog understands the game.

Food-Dispensing Toy
If your dog’s getting bored or restless, stimulate him with a treat-dispensing toy before behavioral problems start. PetMD recommends choosing a food toy that’s durable and easy to clean, filling it with healthy treats, and using it only occasionally (not at regular feedings).

New Commands
If your dog’s an ace at basic commands, consider teaching him new tricks. Wouldn’t you like a high-five from your canine buddy, or to see him “putting away” his own toys in a basket? You and your dog can bond, and you’ll keep his mind engaged as he learns something new. PetMD recommends a 15-minute session.

Fun for Felines
Though your kitty loves to lounge about, exercise is good for him too. PetMD suggests stimulating your cat’s hunting instincts with motorized mice, feather toys, or yarn; just make sure to put the feather or yarn away after playtime is over. Another option is to use a laser pointer to mimic the appearance of a bug; your cat might love chasing it and romping around. Keep the pointer low to the ground, and avoid flashing it in your cat’s eyes.

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Tips and Tricks for Walking Your Dog

The first day of autumn is bearing down on us like a teething puppy after your designer leather shoes, so get those late summer walks in while you can—preferably, with a leash in hand! Just imagine it: the bleary blink of lightning bugs, the nostalgic croon of a turtledove, the rhythmic panting of your canine companion as he paces contentedly at your side. Of course, for many people, walking the dog is a much more, shall we say, involved activity. If you’re spending your dwindling summer getting dragged down the street and clotheslining random passersby with a leash, you might want to read these handy tips, courtesy of the ASPCA:

1. Compile a Survival Kit: Okay, so you’re not venturing that far outside of your home. Even so, you and your pet will need water, some treats to encourage good behavior, and, the most important items of all, some plastic bags and a scooper. Pack some mosquito repellent for yourself, but don’t use it on your dog. A toxic ingredient called DEET could damage your dog’s nervous system; there are pet-friendly alternatives out there!

2. Wear Him Down: This one may seem counterintuitive, but your dog is far less likely to chase squirrels and bound at breakneck speeds ahead of you if you spend some of his energy first. Play some fetch, soak up the sun, then cap off the day with a relaxing walk.

3. Hop to It: Yes, appreciate the scenery, but don’t by any means drag your feet. Your dog will lose interest—quickly—and this is how you get to that point where you’re disentangling his leash from a mailbox. So step lively!

4. Protect the Public: Your dog is so excited to see this random jogger neither of you have ever met before, he could just knock her over and kiss her repeatedly. And probably, he will do just that, if you allow him. The ASPCA suggests teaching your dog the “sit” command beforehand, requiring him to sit before he can interact with a person. You—or the relieved jogger—can then lavish him with treats, of course.

The main thing to remember is that your dog is just being a dog. The desire to chase, to investigate everything from that discarded piece of gum to a total stranger’s tennis shoe, is all perfectly natural. Don’t get frustrated, and don’t let up on your training. If you remain consistent, you and your dog might soon be strolling side by side down the promenade, admiring the changing leaves.

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Cat Fitness

Does your kitty have the reputation of being lazy cat?  If so, there are many ways to help your cat become more active and, if needed, slim down.  According to Animal Planet, if your cat is overweight or not fit, it is at risk for heart, respiratory and kidney disease, as well as cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and ligament injury.  An overweight cat is also known to live 2 ½  years shorter than a fit feline.  To keep your cat healthy and at a normal weight, Animal Planet has composed a list of the Top 5 Ways to Keep Your Kitty Fit:

1. Try Competitive Play

2. Arrange an Outdoor Adventure

3. Police its Food

4. Be a Play Partner

5. Create an Indoor Jungle

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