As the weather gets colder, you and your pet may be spending more time indoors on the sofa. The lack of exercise can have a negative impact on the physical and mental wellbeing of both you and your pet. With ongoing limitations to outdoor activities because of COVID-19, knowing how to keep your pet fit at home could help keep them healthy and happy.
As with any exercise, the amount and type of activity will vary according to the age, species, breed, and overall health of your pet. If you are unsure if these activities are suitable for your pet, please contact your vet.
Here are some ideas on how you can keep your pet healthy with some indoor exercises:
- Brain games. You can get special interactive brain games for pets through major online pet supply retailers. These can help with their mental and physical wellbeing. You can also save money and create a game on your own. The simplest one could be hiding a favourite toy under a plastic bucket and mixing it up with other empty buckets. Then get your pet to try to pick the correct one.
- Hide and seek. If you have a dog, you can play an exciting game of hide and seek with your pet. You can hide somewhere in your home and encourage them to find you. They will use a variety of their senses to discover where you have gone. When they find you, they will be extremely excited!
- Laser pointer. Cats are natural predators and love capturing things. A laser pointer provides an outlet for cats to have fun chasing and “batting” about the moving dot. Please use laser pointers explicitly designed to play with cats, as some can be harmful to your pet. You should always avoid pointing the laser at their eyes. Low wattage lasers designed for cat toys should not be a risk if the light flashes across their eyes for a split second. Try pointing the laser at the ground in front of them or beside them. Please remember that they can also cause frustration as the laser can never be ‘caught’. Finishing your play session by aiming the dot on a small toy or treat can help alleviate this.
- Introduce some new toys. There is a lot of research that suggests that pets love new toys. The festive season is a period where many pet supply retailers have many sales on pet toys. By adding new toys to their collection – it will maintain their interest and keep them active.
- Rotate existing toys. As a pet owner, you can quickly build an extensive collection of toys which your pet eventually disregards. Rotate toys this winter so that they do not get bored of them – bringing one out of storage elicits a new bout of excitement and hopefully some exercise!
- Puzzle feeder. You can make dinner exciting with puzzle feeders. There are some super engaging puzzle feeders available to buy that can be filled with your pet’s regular food, which make them use their brain before they eat.
- Training. Being stuck indoors is a perfect time to work on your pet's training, whether that is reinforcing already taught commands or learning new tricks. Why not challenge yourself to teach your pet something new over Winter such as giving paw, rolling over or touching your hand on command. Training not only keeps your pets mentally stimulated but helps to strengthen their bond with you as they look to you for instruction.
Remember that your pet may have even less self-control than you do over the cold winter days during the festive season! Keep them from piling on the pounds by ensuring everyone within the household does not continually give food or treats to your pets. You can get your family or household members involved in playtime to keep everyone entertained, healthy and happy!
If you have any concerns about your pet’s health, please give us a call. Please ensure you call us or read our latest guidelines in case of an emergency.