Dog running with toy

Healthy Habits for Pet Weight Loss Awareness Month 

January is pet weight loss awareness month! If your pet is getting a few comments from your friends and family that have you responding, “they’re not fat, they’re just fluffy!” perhaps it’s time to think about creating an exercise routine for them.

Since it is January, you may also have a New Year’s resolution to get a little fitter alongside your pet. Exercise doesn’t have to be boring, though, and playtime can make exercise much more fun and engaging for your pet and you too! Doing more exercise with your pet will also be great for building a relationship between you both, so you can get fitter and have fun with your pet at the same time. 

Fun exercises for you and your dog! 

A quick way to make exercising much more interesting for your dog with not a lot of effort made is adding a ball! Your dog will have a great time playing fetch, chasing after a tennis ball, or kicking a football around. If you involve yourself, you will also get in a good workout by throwing the ball or kicking one around with your dog. Playing fetch for an hour or so every day will be a brilliant cardio source for both human and dog players!  

Frisbee also makes a fun game out and running around, and your dog will get the chance to run and jump and chase!  

If your pup isn’t the type to chase a ball and prefers to walk and sniff around a lot, taking your dog for a nice long walk will be super beneficial for you and your dog. You can try to find a walking path close to where you live for a pleasant stroll around your neighbourhood, or if your pet is fine in the car, try a longer hike somewhere further afield. Long walks full of chances to run off and explore will be great for getting in some exercise. Depending on the breed of your dog, they might need more exercise in a week than others. If you have a particularly energetic breed, it might be worth taking them for a walk twice a day, but if you have a less energetic breed, or an older dog, they might just like one walk a day. If you have to balance day-to-day life, you can try taking your pet for a quick walk on weekdays, followed by a nice long walk on the weekends. It will help the bond between you and your pet to have a routine that you meet every day. 

Swimming is so much fun for dogs; be it in the sea, a lake, or a slow-moving river, they will have a great time splashing about. A nice swim will also be great for shedding the excess weight since the water can help support the body and make it easier to move. It’s also fun to splash about! You can easily incorporate swimming with play and walking by taking them for a walk along the beach and throwing a ball to chase into the water! While you might not want to join your dog on a swim (especially not in January waters) taking a nice long walk with them while they swim and paddle will be great for both of you. Make sure that you keep a towel with you for your pet to dry off before either getting back in the car, or walking home. This will avoid your pup getting a chill from spending too much time damp and cold. 

Fun exercising for you and your cat 

Cats enjoy wandering around and being outside, and if you can get them used to wearing and using a harness, they can be taken for a longer walk. They might like a wander around your neighbourhood, just be careful of other animals that may be walking around, because on a lead your cat will feel restricted and frightened. The last thing you want is for your cat to loop their lead around a tree branch. Taking a nice quiet walk with your kitty is a nice amount of exercise for you both, and if your cat never really ventures out, the walk will give them a chance to explore without getting lost. 

Cat toys like cat wands and other toys with dangly ends make playtime a great way to lose weight. Playing with toys like that brings out the hunting instincts of cats, and they can really get in the zone of chasing and hunting, extending playtime for quite some time. Cats like playing a lot more than people tend to think, especially if the games play into their instinct like that. These games can get you fully involved too, since you can almost become the hunted party by controlling the toy, you can run around with your cat, using more than just your wrist to flick the toy. Just make sure to give them a rest if they seem to be getting a little tired or annoyed at the games. 

Weight Loss Awareness Month 

Weight loss awareness month is a super important time as excess weight on the body can cause your pet lots of pain and health issues. An overweight pet has a higher risk of developing arthritis, kidney disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and even cancer. Being overweight will also increase their chance of physical injury; it is more likely they could tear a ligament from strenuous exercise or slip a hip. In day-to-day life, walking around and moving with the extra weight puts strain on the joints and muscles, which can cause consistent pain. It’s common for overweight pets to have an overall feeling of unwellness or low energy more frequently than a pet that is at a healthier weight. They might also overheat more often and start to smell bad, and the additional fatty wrinkles can develop skin conditions. They might need to be cleaned more regularly under the skin folds to avoid the build-up of dirt or bacteria. 

With reduced physical wellbeing your pet’s mental wellbeing might also take a hit, since they can struggle to fulfil natural behaviours that can make them anxious, such as struggling to clean themselves or finding it difficult to jump over and chase things. The inability to do these instinctive behaviours can make them feel lost and unhappy, animals do have the ability to become depressed or anxious because of the loss of their natural instincts. 

Not all pets are the same though and their weight loss will differ throughout breeds and individual animals, and what does work for some might not for others. If your pet is particularly overweight, these smaller weight loss techniques might not make much of a difference, and looking into the medical options of weight loss may be a better option. Make sure that you consult your vet for a professional opinion on your individual pet’s weight loss journey!