For many of us, summer is the season of jetting off on holiday, planning exciting outdoor adventures, and making the most of the warm weather – but it’s also an encouraging time to get in shape!
PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing said: “We all want to feel our best, but when the sun is shining and the temperature is warm, it can really motivate us to get outdoors and be active. While the benefits to us of moving around more are widely understood, keeping fit and healthy is just as important for our furry friends, and there are lots of healthy habits we can implement for our pets to help them maintain a balanced lifestyle – for summer, and beyond.
“A complete, well-balanced, nutritious diet is essential for your pet. To make sure your furry friend is getting the nutrients they need, look for a food manufacturer who is part of the Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA).Members of this organisation meet extra quality standards, such as Royal Canin. “Wet foods may be preferred by some cats and dogs, and provide additional moisture, while biscuits or kibble help to keep teeth clean and can be used as treats – many owners choose to feed a mixture of the two. It doesn’t matter what you give, as long as it’s balanced, and the right amount for your pet’s age, breed and weight.
“Regular exercise is vital for your pet to maintain a healthy lifestyle and, with longer days and warmer weather, it’s the perfect opportunity to spend some time outdoors with your dog (but remember not to exercise them in hot weather as there is a risk of heatstroke). The amount of exercise your dog needs will depend on many factors, including their age, health, fitness level and breed, but most dogs will enjoy a minimum of two walks daily, with playtime in-between.
“Cats may not appreciate a scheduled walk every day, but you can help them to get the exercise they need by hiding their food in different places around your home. They’ll burn off even more calories if they need to use the stairs each time they want a snack!
“Sticking to a consistent exercise routine is a great way to build up your pet’s fitness and stamina – and will also help them to shed a few extra pounds, should they need to.
Easy on the treats
“While we might indulge in a cheeky treat or two, avoid feeding any leftovers to your pets – many human foods are high in fat, sugar and salt, and can throw our furry friends’ diet off balance, resulting in unhealthy weight gain. Some foods such as chocolate, grapes, onions and garlic are also highly toxic to dogs and cats, so keep these well away from curious paws.
Plenty of playtime
“Don’t forget your pet’s mental health – alongside daily exercise, try to schedule some extra playtime to keep them active and stimulated as well as helping them to burn off some extra calories. Dogs might want to chase and retrieve a toy, play tug of war, hide and seek, or sniff out their favourite toy in a scent game. Cats prefer to be active in short bursts, so use their favourite toys to entertain them for five to 10 minutes, then let them rest.
Consistency is key
“Just like with our own fitness, being consistent is key to achieving long-lasting results. Though the summer season is great to kick-start motivation, it’s important to encourage a healthy lifestyle for your pets all-year round.”
For helpful recourses on how to keep your pet in tip top shape, check out PDSA’s #Weighup campaign, which is proudly supported by Royal Canin, and download PDSA’s free guide: https://pdsa.org.uk/weighup-pr
PDSA is the UK’s largest vet charity providing a vital service for pets across the UK whose owners struggle to afford treatment costs for their sick and injured pets. For many vulnerable pets, PDSA is there to help when there is nowhere else for their owners to turn. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information. www.pdsa.org.uk