Holistic Animal Care: Critter Fitness Basics, Jenny Magli

holistic animal care, U.P. holistic business, holistic health in MI's Upper Peninsula

Exercise can keep your pet healthy and extend his or her lifespan.

It’s also a great way to reduce stress and anxiety, build confidence, enhance socialization skills, and bond with your pet. Young and healthy adult pets need lots of exercise. It is also fun and a way to incorporate obedience training. Even senior pets need some form of regular exercise to maintain their health. Lack of exercise creates stress and can cause unwanted destructive behavior such as shoe chewing, excessive barking, digging, improper elimination, etc.

The type of exercise you choose depends on your pet’s age, fitness level and your own lifestyle.

If you are unable to exercise your pet on your own, consider having a family member, friend or a  student come and walk your pet. You’d be surprised at how many people are willing to help out, especially those who love pets but are unable to have one of their own. Dogs are happy to do just about anything, such as play Frisbee in the park, go swimming or take long walks in the neighborhood. Cats are generally happy to play with toys by themselves, although they love interaction with you also!

Senior pets’ exercise tolerance generally decreases as they age.

Check with your vet to learn what types of exercise are safest for your aging pet and how long he or she can tolerate it. If your pet appears tired and is reluctant to keep exercising, DON’T push it. Be patient. Many elderly dogs attempt to keep up with their owner while running or walking and don’t know when they’ve reached their limit. If you ever notice any sign of distress, (such as coughing, trouble breathing, strange behavior), or your pet appears to be ill, contact your vet immediately!

One of the simplest forms of exercise is walking. This can be done year-round, weather permitting of course. Daily exercise is best, unless the weather is questionable (too hot or too cold) or a medical problem limits your pet’s activity. If your pet is elderly, obese or has any known health issues, talk with your vet before beginning this or any type of exercise program. 

Weather can be unpredictable – warm one day and cold the next. Make sure your pet has plenty of water available at all times, (even in cold weather), and provide a place to cool down out of the sun or to warm up from the cold.

In the summer, it’s best to exercise in early morning or late evening when the heat and humidity are typically lower. 

In addition, if the temperature drops sharply, (especially below freezing), exercise should be limited unless your pet is really used to this weather. Remember, if it’s too hot or cold for you, it probably is for your pet too!

Even in winter, wind chill is a factor and frostbite and hypothermia can occur quickly. If your pet is shivering, get it back indoors or in some form of warm shelter. If you live in an area that gets cold and icy, remember that road salt can burn your pet’s feet. Be sure and rinse their feet in warm water when you return from walking on salted areas.

Moderate activity can help your pet live a long and happy life. They will thank you for the change of scenery. You will benefit too. Enjoy your playtime together and have fun!!

Jenny is a Certified Natural Health Consultant for pets and their people, and a Healing Touch for Animals (Level 2) and NES BioEnergetics Practitioner. Consultations are done over the phone and through email. To contact, call or text (906) 235-3524 or email 1healthlink@gmail.com.

Excerpted with permission from the Fall 2010 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. MagazineCopyright 2010, Intuitive Learning Creation. All rights reserved.