Cedar Pet Clinic Blog

What Do You Need to Know About Your Pet’s Health & Exercise?

As temperatures drop and the days shorten, many pet parents find it difficult to adjust their pets’ exercise routine to provide as much active play and mental stimulation as they need. And while it can be difficult to convince yourself to bundle up to take the dog out or play with the cat when you have so many other winter chores to do, exercise is vital for pet's health.

Regular exercise is the best preventative medicine for your pet. Just how much does exercise matter and how much does your pet need? We have the answers you’re looking for.

How Does Exercise Affect Your Pet’s Health?

Exercise isn’t just about staying trim and fitting into a harness. Exercise and maintaining a healthy body weight can improve your pet’s quality of life and lengthen how many years you have to spend with your best buddy.

Of all the things you can do for your pet, exercise has the biggest impact on your pet’s health. And they don’t cost much. In fact, walks, play, and games are free!

A Healthy Heart

Regular exercise has a direct relationship to your pet’s heart health. How much does exercise benefit your pet? The National Institute of Health concluded that 20 minutes of elevated heart rate is better for dogs than any prescription. The same is true for other pets as well.

Exercise improves your pet’s heart health by

  • Reducing bad cholesterol and boost good cholesterol
  • Reducing blood pressure
  • Strengthening the muscles around the heart

Joints and muscles also benefit from exercise. How?

  • Exercise lubricates your pet’s joints. Movement transports and activates synovial fluid which works like grease on metal machine parts.
  • Exercise builds and maintains muscle which can help pets keep their mobility after developing arthritis or experiencing an injury.
  • Strong muscles from exercise help support your pet’s joints, so they’re less likely to get injured.
  • Strong muscles lead to better balance which prevents slips and falls that can lead to other injuries.

A Healthy Mind

When you play with your cat or walk your dog, you’re not just helping her body stay healthy, you’re providing her with mental stimulation as well. Exercise activates your pet’s mind for a healthier brain and less boredom. A lifetime of mental stimulation can reduce mental deterioration, anxiety, stress, and memory loss.

Other Health Benefits

Running, jumping, pouncing, and playing prevents excess weight gain and helps keep pets trim. This can lower the risk of diabetes, kidney failure, and cancer. A busy pet is also less likely to get into trouble.

Signs Your Pet Needs More Exercise

When pets don’t get enough active exercise, they can gain weight, become bored and depressed, and develop bad behavioral habits. Some signs to look for to determine if your pet needs more exercise include

  • Destruction: pets often find an outlet for their energy. From your shoes to curtains to furniture, your pet may sharpen her claws, chew, or play with objects that aren’t toys.
  • Weight gain: Dogs and cats should have an hourglass shape from the top. This means that her waist should narrow between the ribs and the hips. You should also be able to feel your dog’s ribs, and your cat’s tummy should not sag.
  • Nervous habits: dogs and cats that don’t get enough mental stimulation can become neurotic and anxious. This can manifest as paw licking, excessive grooming, bald spots, pacing, separation anxiety, and general nervousness.

How Much Exercise Does Your Pet Need?

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all recommendation for how much exercise your pet needs daily. There are some guidelines that can help you determine if your pet is receiving enough exercise and how much exercise pets like yours need. We can help you find the right balance for your individual pet as well.

Play with Your Puppies and Kitties

Puppies and kittens learn from play and adventure. This teaches them social skills and coordination while helping your little fuzzball develop strong and healthy muscles.

When it comes to developing puppies and kitties, provide as much exercise and fun as you can. They’ll tucker out when they’ve had enough play. Having more than one puppy or kitty can help reduce your work since they’ll play with each other.

Avoid high impact exercises like daily running with your puppy. As their bones grow, high impact exercise can have a negative effect on your puppy’s healthy growth. This is even more important when it comes to large and giant breeds.

Fit and Feisty Felines

Contrary to what they want you to believe, cats don’t have to nap all day. Provide your purr-ball with several play sessions of fifteen to twenty minutes throughout the day. For those days you’re at work, you can supplement with battery-powered toys and catnip-filled play-things. Exercise will keep your cat in shape and help them rest better at night.

Dog-Gone Fun with Your Doggo

Breed: research your specific breed to find out how active they typically should be. Most medium and large active breeds need at least an hour or more of active exercise daily. Giant breeds often need a bit less exercise and smaller breeds get their energy out a bit easier.

Dogs with short snouts struggle to breathe while running or partaking in high-energy exercise. Be very careful when exercising with them. If you’re worried about your dog’s ability to stay active, we can help you find other ways to keep these pups healthy and active.

Age: Senior dogs don’t need as much exercise as they once did, but they do need to elevate their heart rates daily to stay healthy.

From Big to Small: Obese and overweight dogs need to start slow and gradually increase exercise as they lose weight. Too much too soon can damage your dog’s joints and put her at risk for injury.

Simple Ways to Help Your Pets Remain Healthy and Active

Exercise can be a great for you and your pet. Find the right toys, treats, and activities to keep play fresh and fun. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, you can make cat toys from craft materials lying around the house. For dogs, always check sales bins for frisbees, balls, rope toys, and other dog toys.

You can also create cat ramps to encourage more movement for your cat. And take your dog on hikes and to parks.

Help Your Pet Stay Strong and Active

As the days shrink, keep your pet active indoors, or bundle up and take your dog for an after-dark walk. The important thing is to keep your best friend busy and moving. It’s easier to stay active that get back in shape.

If you have questions about a diet to support your pet’s health or an exercise routine that will work for your pet, we can help. Give us a call.

 

 

Image credit: Josh Hild | Pexels

5 Simple Ways to Support Your Pet as He or She Ages

Have you noticed your dog, cat, or rabbit getting a few more white hairs mixed in their coat? As our pets slow down a bit, their needs change and transform to promote healthy, happy aging. While your dog may no longer be a puppy, they will never lose those puppy eyes you fell in love with. And while your kitten has become a cat, they still get bursts of energy and playfulness.

To offer sustained health to keep your pet active, psychologically sharp, and healthy, we have some suggestions that are simple and straightforward. 

Repay that puppy love or those kitty cuddles by assisting your senior pet in graceful aging. 

5 Ways to Encourage Healthy Aging for Your Pet

1. Support a Healthy Diet and Weight

Your pet’s weight is a reliable predictor in how they’ll feel during their senior years. Healthy body shape and weight will keep your pet more active for years to come. Reducing extra pounds increases mobility and lessens joint strain and pain. 

Pet obesity can increase the risk of some serious health issues. 

Maintaining your pet’s healthy weight reduces the risk for

  • Skin irritation
  • Joint pain and cartilage deterioration
  • Decreased mobility
  • Cancer and tumors
  • Heart and lung problems

As memes of chubby pets become more and more popular, it’s important to keep your pet’s wellbeing in mind. As your pet gets older, you don’t want to witness them struggling to get around. Pets want to enjoy getting out, running, playing, and experiencing the world around them.

Do you have questions about your pet’s weight? We can help. From safe exercise to a change in diet, we can help your pet shed a few pounds so they can enjoy their senior years.

2. Don’t Let Parasites Take a Bite Out of Your Pet’s Health

Parasites aren’t just gross. They can trim years off your pet’s life expectancy. Parasites can live in your pet’s circulatory system, digestive system, in her ears, or on their coat.

Parasites like fleas, mites, and ticks can cause your pet mental distress. From random bites that wake pets from sleep to relentlessly itchy ears, parasites can take a toll. Pets with external parasites often wind up with scrapes, scratches, and cuts that can become infected and feel extremely sore.

Internal parasites like worms and heartworms can also rob your senior pet of health and longevity.

3. Increase Vet Visits to Twice Per Year

While we love your pet, that’s not the only reason we want to see them more often as they get older. Our senior pets become more vulnerable as they age. Increasing frequency of checkups helps with early diagnosis and treatment. With a few simple blood tests, we can also check your pet’s metabolic function to make sure they are feeling their best.

Does your dog have some lumps and bumps? Does your senior kitty seem withdrawn or lethargic? Bring your pet by. We can offer you peace of mind with a simple exam. 

4. Prevent Slips and Falls

Assisting your pet in getting around the house will help them maintain their  independence. It will also prevent the risk of emergency vet visits.

To reduce the risk of slips and help your pet get a grip you can:

  • Purchase pet stairs or ramps to help your pet leap into the car or more easily hop on the bed.
  • Put down rugs on slippery surfaces.
  • Avoid ice when walking your dog.
  • Invest in a support harness for your dog to reduce sudden jerks or neck strain.

Many dog parents stop walking their dogs. And cat owners don’t play as often with their senior pets. Don’t fall into this habit. Senior pets need exercise too. Physical activity lubricates the joints and supports cardiovascular health. Strong muscles also stabilize joints.

5. Your Pet’s Mental Health Also Requires Maintenance

Pets experience many of the same issues of psychological senility as people do in their aging years. From anxiety to dementia and depression, senior pets also need cognitive workouts.

Some techniques you can use to prevent mental deterioration: 

  • While you can find puzzles for dogs and cats for sale, you can also create tasks for rabbits and other pets for mental stimulation. 
  • Continuing to encourage play with your pet also helps keep the mind active. 
  • Training for dogs assists older dogs to feel young and motivated.
  • Be sure your cat can access their favorite window ledge to watch birds, squirrels, and the outside world.

Provide Your Pet with the Quality of Life They Deserves as They Age

Just because your pet is aging, doesn’t mean life needs to slow down or that they need to lose their quality of life. Aging gracefully can be as simple as bringing your pet by to learn more about their individual needs during their golden years.

Don’t let the memories dwindle. Keep your pet active, healthy year after year. Make the most of those golden moments with your senior pet and support healthy aging with a few simple changes.

 

 

Image credit: Alru4 | Pixabay

5 of Our Favorite Tips to Reduce Your Pet’s Holiday Stress

A fat man in a red suit coming down the chimney, loud laughter, the doorbell ringing, and of course new toys that make strange noise: the holidays are filled with reasons for pets to fret and worry. And before the holidays get any closer, you may want to plan some ways to help your pet cope before Aunt Mildred arrives.

Why Do Pets Get Stressed Out During the Holidays?

For one, the holidays disrupt your pet’s daily routine. You have more errands leading up to Hanukkah and Christmas, and planning for the holiday can leave many pet parents preoccupied. 

Of course, there is also the revolving door of strangers, loud noises, strange scents, and flashing lights.

How Can You Tell If Your Pet Feels Stressed?

If your pet is naturally anxious, she’s likely going to feel spread thin during the holidays. If your pet is usually cool, calm, and collected, she may feel the stress at the height of the celebrations.

For those pet parents who are unsure whether or not their pet is suffering from stress, here are some telltale signs that can help:

For Cats

  • Hiding
  • Non-stop and over-the-top grooming
  • Excess claw sharpening
  • Eliminating outside her box
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite

For Dogs

  • Shivering or shaking
  • Pacing and circling
  • Drooling or panting
  • Excessive yawning
  • Whining
  • Hiding

5 Ways to Help Your Pet Cope with Holiday Stress

1. Help Your Pet Burn Off Some Nervous Energy

Cats and dogs both benefit greatly from exercise. Some cardio doesn’t just keep your pet’s heart healthy, it also provides mental stimulation, and provides deeper, more restorative sleep. Pets also get more anxious and restless when stuck inside, bored.

Playing with your cat or a trip to the dog park can help your pet release some pent up stress and enjoy a distraction from the frenzy of getting ready for the holidays.

If you’re busy shopping, wrapping gifts, or cooking, try using pet puzzles and pick up some new toys from Santa.

When your pet is tired, they can rest more easily when guests arrive.

2. Spend Some Quality Time with Your Pet

Pets are more than just our best friends, they’re our family, too. With all the excitement going on around, take some time to just rest, relax, and spend time with your pet. You can relax while watching a movie, enjoy some training sessions, or just hang out by the fire.

3. Make a Schedule and Try to Maintain Your Routine

It may seem impossible to keep your normal schedule, but maintaining your routine can calm a stressed pet. Remember our dogs and cats thrive on predictability. If you’re going to run errands on your day off, try to do it when you’d normally be at work. If your dog normally gets an evening walk at 6, grab the leash, take a quick break from the party (assign someone to watch anything on the stove), and give your pup a quick walk.

4. Divide and Conquer

If you can’t keep up with all the love and attention your pet needs over the holidays, it’s ok. You’ll still wind up on Santa’s Nice List. 

Consider boarding your pet, hiring a pet sitter, or finding a dog walker. If you have a caring neighbor or family member that has the time to help, don’t hesitate to ask them. Even if you’re home, pet sitters will come over and play with your dog or cat.

5. Create a Calm and Chaos-Free Pet Paradise in Your Home

If your guests are coming to your home for the holidays, it may be best to keep your dog or cat in a room far away from the noise and guests. 

About an hour or so before guests arrive, start prepping your pet’s calm room with comfy bedding, calming music, catnip or a frozen peanut butter toy. Keep the lights dim and put a note on the door asking guests to not knock or enter. For an added level of calm, use Feliway plugins and Adaptil to release calming pheromones that inspire relaxation and contentment.

It’s the Holidays: Be Merry and Reduce Your Pet’s Stress

The holidays create stress for all of us: people and pets. Be prepared to help your pet shake their stress and cope with the change in routine. If you think your pet struggles more than they should with anxiety or stress, please make an appointment. We can help with advice or a prescription tailored to your pet and situation. 

Remember that New Year’s fireworks are right around the corner. If it’s time for a refill for your pet’s anxiety medication or you have questions about finding an anxiety medication to help manage their fear of the blasts, we’re here for you!

 

Image credit: Maximiliano Ignacio Pinilla Alvarado | Pexels

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