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Daily walks, jogs, or play sessions can pay huge dividends when it comes to your dog’s health. Not only will exercise help keep your dog fit and trim, but regular activities can also help channel your dog’s energy into a positive direction, like playing games or taking walks, rather than destructive ones like digging holes in the yard. Check out this guide to get tips on creating a safe and healthy canine workout plan.
Know the Benefits
Regular exercise can have a tremendous impact on your dog’s overall well-being. Dogs that get regular workouts enjoy a higher metabolism, smaller appetite, better muscle tone, and even better temperature regulation – a very important benefit for dogs in hot or humid climates.
In addition, exercise helps ward off canine obesity, a growing problem among our beloved pets, and helps prevent boredom as well. Behavioral issues often stem from a dog’s unmet instinctive desires to do things like dig, herd, retrieve, or hunt. By engaging your pup’s mind with positive activities, you’ll prevent him from finding destructive ways to satisfy his instincts, like digging or chewing inappropriately.
Consult Your Vet
Exercise needs can vary widely based on age, breed, and sex, as well as a dog’s individual health. If your dog is a 6- to 18-month adolescent or a sporting, herding, hound, or terrier breed or mixed breed, your dog’s exercise requirements are likely high. However, strenuous exercise can cause problems in some dogs, especially those that are not fit or are very young or old.
For this reason, it’s important that you talk with your vet before embarking on any new exercise routines with your dog. Athletic owners who run, jog, or perform other strenuous activities must be aware of their dog’s potential limitations. Also, be keenly aware of extreme weather conditions — make sure to go easy on hot, humid, or cold days, and take plenty of breaks. If the dog is lagging behind, tiring, or struggling, head home and make the next exercise session slower (less strenuous) and shorter. Tip: Go slowly when introducing your dog to a new exercise routine, gradually building for the first weeks as he adapts. It’s always best to ask your veterinarian’s advice on how to safely increase your dog’s activity level.
There’s no shortage of ways to fulfill your dog’s exercise requirements, so try a number of activities to find which ones suit you and your dog’s needs. Here’s a list of the most common canine workout activities.
- Walking or jogging
- Running off leash (only where safe and appropriate)
- Playing with other pets
- Tricks for low-calorie treats (see below)
Make a Workout Plan
Since your dog can’t go to the gym, it’s up to you (and your vet) to devise a routine that will give him the proper exercise. For walks, work your way up to a brisk, 10 to 20-minute walk or jog twice a day. Sometimes introducing another dog is the key to encouraging more exercise activity. If you’re running short on time, hire a dog walker or schedule play-dates at a doggy daycare – both worthy investments. Regular visits with a friend or relative’s pet can also help your dog meet his exercise quota.
Consider Low-Calorie Treats
If tricks are your dog’s favorite pastime, low-calorie treats will encourage him to perform without negating his other calorie-burning activities. If your pet has any food allergies, consult your vet to determine which treats are safe and healthy for your dog.
- Apple slices
- Banana slices
- Carrot slices
- Low-calorie commercial treats
- Green beans
- Lean, cooked meat
- Melon chunks
- Pear slices
- Popcorn (without butter or oil)
- Rice cake pieces
Your dog’s exercise needs will change over time so make sure to continue speaking with your veterinarian about what is best for your dog.
While most cats will never learn to run on a treadmill, no matter how much catnip you offer, almost all cats do benefit greatly from some form of regular physical activity. Not only does exercise burn calories, improve muscle tone, and reduce a cat’s appetite, but a healthy exercise plan will also help protect your cat from becoming overweight or obese, improving her quality of life. By sticking to a regular feline workout plan, you’ll have a major positive impact on your cat’s overall health.
Consult Your Vet
As always, it’s important to consult your vet before introducing a new exercise program. If your cat has any health issues, ask your veterinarian to recommend activities that fit your cat’s individual needs.
Some cats are very active by nature. Others may require special treats or cat toys to spark that playful spirit. Here are a few ideas to exercise your cat. Leave out paper bags, tissue paper, and cardboard boxes to inspire play.
- Provide fresh catnip.
- Encourage your cat to chase toys, balls, sticks with feathers, or flashlight pointers. Be careful not to shine the pointer in your pet’s eyes – or anyone else’s.
- Inspire climbing with a cat tree or cat condo.
- Provide a scratching post or pad.
- Encourage play with other pets. Set up play-dates with a friend or relative’s pet. You may even want to consider adopting another cat.
- Train your cat to perform tricks for low-calorie treats. For example, teach your cat to run to you from across the house, or climb up her cat tree when you shake the box of treats.
- Get your cat a food puzzle. Specially designed cat toys require your cat to work to remove treats inside.
Be sure to choose toys for your cat carefully, avoiding toys with a string or small pieces that your cat may try to swallow, and don’t leave toys out for cats to play with unattended.
Puppies are without a doubt some of the most adorable things on the planet. Parenting a new puppy, however, is no walk in the park. Here’s a guide to help you care for the new addition to the family.
When the time comes to finally bring your new puppy home for the first time, you can pretty much count on three things: unbridled joy, cleaning up your puppy’s accidents, and a major lifestyle adjustment. As you’ll soon learn, a growing puppy needs much more than a food bowl and a doghouse to thrive. And while it may be a lot of work initially, it’s well worth the effort. Establishing good and healthy habits in those first few sleep-deprived weeks will lay the foundation for many dog-years of happiness for you and your puppy. Contact us today for any questions.
1. Find a Good Vet
The first place you and your new puppy should go together is, you guessed it, straight to the vet for a checkup. This visit will not only help ensure that your puppy is healthy and free of serious health issues, birth defects, etc., but it will help you take the first steps toward a good preventive health routine. If you don’t have a vet already, ask friends for recommendations. If you got your dog from a shelter, ask their advice as they may have veterinarians they swear by. Local dog walkers and groomers are also a great source of ideas.
2. Make the Most of Your First Vet Visit
Ask your vet which puppy foods he or she recommends, how often to feed, and what portion size to give your pup.
- Set up a vaccination plan with your vet.
- Discuss safe options for controlling parasites, both external and internal.
- Learn which signs of illness to watch for during your puppy’s first few months.
- Ask about when you should spay or neuter your dog.
3. Shop for Quality Food
Your puppy’s body is growing in critical ways which is why you’ll need to select a food that’s formulated especially for puppies as opposed to adult dogs. Look for a statement from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) on the packaging to ensure that the food you choose will meet your pup’s nutritional requirements.
Small and medium-sized breeds can make the leap to adult dog food between 9 and 12 months of age. Large breed dogs should stick with puppy kibbles until they reach 2-years-old. Make sure your puppy has fresh and abundant water available at all times.
Feed multiple times a day:
- Age 6-12 weeks – 4 meals per day
- Age 3-6 months – 3 meals per day
- Age 6-12 months – 2 meals per day
4. Establish a Bathroom Routine
Because puppies don’t take kindly to wearing diapers, housetraining quickly becomes a high priority on most puppy owners’ list of must-learn tricks. According to the experts, your most potent allies in the quest to housetrain your puppy are patience, planning, and plenty of positive reinforcement. In addition, it’s probably not a bad idea to put a carpet-cleaning battle plan in place, because accidents will happen.
Until your puppy has had all of her vaccinations, you’ll want to find a place outdoors that’s inaccessible to other animals. This helps reduce the spread of viruses and disease. Make sure to give lots of positive reinforcement whenever your puppy manages to potty outside and, almost equally important, refrain from punishing her when she has accidents indoors.
Knowing when to take your puppy out is almost as important as giving her praise whenever she does eliminate outdoors. Here’s a list of the most common times to take your puppy out to potty.
- When you wake up.
- Right before bedtime.
- Immediately after your puppy eats or drinks a lot of water.
- When your puppy wakes up from a nap.
- During and after physical activity.
5. Watch For Early Signs of Illness
For the first few months, puppies are more susceptible to sudden bouts of illnesses that can be serious if not caught in the early stages. If you observe any of the following symptoms in your puppy, it’s time to contact the vet.
- Lack of appetite
- Poor weight gain
- Swollen of the painful abdomen
- Lethargy (tiredness)
- Difficulty breathing
- Wheezing or coughing
- Pale gums
- Swollen, red eyes or eye discharge
- Nasal discharge
- Inability to pass urine or stool
6. Teach Obedience
By teaching your puppy good manners, you’ll set your puppy up for a life of positive social interaction. In addition, obedience training will help forge a stronger bond between you and your puppy.
Teaching your pup to obey commands such as sit, stay, down, and come will not only impress your friends, but these commands will help keep your dog safe and under control in any potentially hazardous situations. Many puppy owners find that obedience classes are a great way to train both owner and dog. Classes typically begin accepting puppies at age 4 to 6 months.
Tip: Keep it positive. Positive reinforcement, such as small treats, has been proven to be vastly more effective than punishment.
7. Be Sociable
Just like obedience training, proper socialization during puppyhood helps avoid behavioral problems down the road. At approximately 2 to 4 months of age, most puppies begin to accept other animals, people, places, and experiences. Socialization classes are an excellent way to rack up positive social experiences with your puppy. Just be sure to ask your vet about what kind of interaction is OK at this stage.
You absolutely can teach your cat to not use your furniture as a scratching post — but before we delve into the specifics of how to stop your cat from scratching the sofa, let’s start by talking about why he may be doing this in the first place.
Since cats often scratch to shed their outer nail sheaths, regular nail trims might help reduce the scratching. But there could be something more serious going on: Retreating beneath the sofa could indicate that your cat isn’t feeling well, either physically or emotionally.
A cat who is fearful, anxious or stressed may take shelter under a couch or bed to escape an upsetting situation — for example, a new baby or new pet in the home. And cats will often mask pain or illness, so your cat may be hiding, because he’s sick or injured.
In either case, the first step in dealing with the behavior is to schedule a visit to the veterinarian to determine if your cat is suffering from an undiagnosed medical condition, is in some type of physical discomfort, or if he’s anxious or stressed about something in his environment. Your vet may also refer you to a veterinary behaviorist for extra help as needed.
Redirect the Scratching
Once your cat has a clean bill of health, you can start to address the behavior. The goal is to redirect your cat’s scratching away from the furniture to something more cat-friendly, like a designated scratching post. This is the best way to stop your cat from scratching the sofa.
Cats will frequently scratch furniture because they lack acceptable replacement activities and spaces that suit their tastes. Teaching your feline to stay clear of the furniture will require providing cat-specific spaces that are more desirable than the area under your couch.
Create resting and play spaces that cater to your cat’s preferences, including spaces where he can sleep, hide and survey his surroundings.
Burrow beds, tunnels, cat trees — especially those with covered areas and den spaces — allow your cat to watch the action in your home — or escape from it if needed.
Tunnels and boxes also provide spaces to play or just chill. Your cat’s crate or carrier can also serve as a quiet resting place when he wants to be alone.
This article was originally posted here.
I love meeting first-time dog owners. They’re so enthusiastic about their pups — or their adult dogs if they’ve adopted from a shelter. I want to do everything I can to make sure they get off on the right paw with their new pet. Because I talk to so many of them, I see some of the same mistakes over and over. They probably don’t seem like mistakes, especially to a new pet parent, but they sure can cause problems with a dog’s health and behavior in the long run. If you have just acquired a dog or know someone who has, here are five common new dog owner mistakes and my doggy do-list for doin’ it right.
1. They’re not hands-on. Dogs need lots of handling throughout their lives. They’ll be visiting the veterinarian — at least I hope so! — and maybe seeing a groomer. They’ll meet kids, neighbors, and strangers who may want to pet them — with permission, of course. They need to have their teeth brushed and their nails trimmed, and they will likely need to take pills or other types of medication. The best thing you can do to prepare your dog for all of this necessary attention is to get him used to have all parts of his body handled. He should be willing to let you touch him anywhere, including his paws and more private areas.
This is an easy thing to practice every day. While he’s lying next to you or on your lap as you watch television, handle his paws, grasping them firmly but kindly. Look inside his ears or give them a sniff. Lift up his tail and check out his behind. Stroke his belly and give the groin area a going-over. Lift his lips and look at his teeth. You get the idea. This is also a way for you to learn what’s normal so you can monitor his body condition and catch problems early.
Start brushing his teeth on day one. The earlier he’s accustomed to it, the more accepting he’ll be of it as a normal part of his life. Same with trimming his nails. Do one or two nails a day, just barely shaving off the edge. Be careful not to “quick” him.
To get him used to take medication, pinch off bits of Pill Pockets or cheese and give as treats. When he needs to have one with a pill tucked inside, he’ll usually accept it eagerly.
2. They don’t measure food. Of course, it’s important for puppies to grow, but we don’t want them to grow too much or too fast. That can put undue pressure on their still-forming musculoskeletal structure, which can lead to orthopedic problems later in life.
Talk to your veterinarian about the best type of food for your dog. Growing large breeds can benefit from diets that permit slow but steady growth, while small dogs tend to need energy-dense foods. In either case, it’s important to measure your dog’s food and give it at specific times rather than free feeding (leaving food out all the time). This helps to ensure that he doesn’t eat too much and become overweight.
3. They don’t use food puzzles. I tell people to throw out their dog’s food dish. Instead, exercise his brain and body by feeding him using a food puzzle or food-dispensing device. Measure out the appropriate amount of food, place it in the toy and watch him “hunt” for his meals by pushing or otherwise manipulating it to get the food out. This is a great way to keep him busy while you’re at work and to make sure he gets some physical activity and mental stimulation.
This article was originally posted here.