By Dr. Jean Hofve
When you can’t get out for a walk, there are many fun, interactive toys that
will keep your dog entertained and moving, like the
West Paw Design Zogoflex Jive, the
Babble Ball Interactive Toy, and
Cats need exercise too, and while it’s possible to train a cat to walk with a
cat harness and leash, at-home interactive play is the best way to keep your
cat’s mind and body engaged and resilient. A 15-minutes session once or twice a
day is ideal.
To help your cat get the most from these
interactive toys, the key is to “BE the prey.” Use your imagination, and
have fun! If you’re a mouse, run, jump and hide; if you’re a bird, flutter and
dive. Always let your cat catch the prey in the end, and follow up with a
high-protein treat such as canned food. This not only exercises your cat’s
physical side, but also satisfies the mental/emotional “hunter” part—an
important consideration in multi-cat homes to prevent aggressive behavior. It’s
also a terrific way to help chubby kitties lose weight, as well as to prevent
boredom and the unwanted behaviors that sometimes go with it!
When you start an exercise program for your pet, use the same common-sense
precautions you would with any other new activity. Don’t go hog wild all at
once; your pet can get sore muscles and even cause damage to joints, because
they don’t know when to stop and will usually keep going as long as you can.
Build up your pet’s endurance gradually, and watch for signs that he’s had
enough - wanting to lie or sit down, or showing any degree of labored breathing.
You’ll notice that all of these suggestions have one thing in common - you!
Sure, you can leave toys out for your pets to play with, but their greatest joy
is to play with you, so even though the holidays can be hectic, please make room
for that quality time with your best buddy.
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