PDSA vets offers top tips for keeping pets active
During lockdown it can be difficult to keep our pets fit and active while we spend more time indoors, as well as to keep those excess pounds off. The good news is PDSA has lots of ideas for ways to keep your pet in shape without having to leave the home.
PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing says: “Lockdown is an opportunity to spend more quality time with our pets, but it could also mean we’re feeding our pets extra treats too. Pet obesity is a huge problem in the UK and, sadly, there is no sign of improvement. Veterinary professionals estimate that almost 50% of dogs seen in practice each week are overweight or obese. It’s just as vital as ever to keep your pet’s weight in check during this time.
“It’s still important for your dog to be walked daily and to go into the garden regularly. There are also some indoor activities we can do so they don’t get bored and start making mischief at home!”
PDSA’s tips for keeping your pets active include:
- Play games. Pets love play. Along with games of ‘catch’ in the garden, you can play hide and seek indoors with your dog’s toys. Cats love to hunt and chase in short bursts, toy fishing rods are ideal in regular five or ten minute sessions.
- Agility Course – set up your own course in your home or garden using small boxes. Teach your dog or cat by guiding them around the course using healthy treats. But, if they’re not keen, don’t force them to take part.
- Training. Keep your dog’s mind sharp by brushing up on some basic commands. Keep sessions short, use positive reward-based methods and follow PDSA’s top tips for training your dog.
Cats can be trained in exactly the same way dogs can. Teach them to sit or to stay using their favourite healthy treats.
- Puzzles. Puzzle feeders are great to combine food with exercise for both cats and dogs. You could also try scattering their food onto a scrunched up blanket to keep their brain working at dinner time.
- Encourage cats to climb! Make sure they have different levels to play on. You can get large cat climbers or trees that have places for them to hide up high.
- Don’t forget about small furries! There are many ways to keep rabbits and guinea pigs entertained. Put some vegetables or hay into empty toilet rolls and stuff with paper at either side. You can poke small holes in them so they have to pull the hay through or roll the tube for a treat to fall out.
Nina added: “Most pets are just as happy with extra attention and playtime with their owners as they are with food. ‘Treats’ of human food or excessive portions can be very bad for them. They should be fed a complete pet food suitable for their age and weight, with only occasional healthy treats. Our pets also need regular, varied exercise, suitable for their age and health, to keep their bodies and minds stimulated.
For many people, their pet is their only companion. Now more than ever, PDSA needs your help to treat sick and injured pets and keep families together. PDSA is urging the public to donate what they can to help keep them continue their vital service www.pdsa.org.uk/appeal.