January was National Walk Your Dog Month, but you should celebrate exercising with your furry pal every month. Exercise not only helps keep your pet slim and trim, but also promotes a healthy mental state. Routine physical activity for your pet also promotes your own health, especially in terms of cardiovascular wellness and mental health. As if these reasons aren’t enough to spur you to lace up your tennis shoes and hit the sidewalk, here are six additional motivations.
#1: Too many pets are overweight because of inadequate exercise
According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an estimated 60% of cats and 56% of dogs in the United States were classified as overweight or obese in 2018. While too little exercise was not the only reason for these staggering statistics, inadequate activity certainly played a huge role in the number of overweight pets we see. Combined with showing pets love with high-calorie and high-fat treats, lack of exercise created an obesity epidemic in our pet population. Instead of loading up your four-legged friend with snacks to assuage your guilt over not finding time to play, sneak in a quick training session during TV commercials, or wake up 15 minutes earlier to go for a run. The decreased calories and increased exercise will help your furry pal shed the excess weight, making them happier and healthier.
#2: Daily walks stimulate your pet’s mind
Being stuck home alone in the house all day can be incredibly boring for pets. They spend the majority of their lives waiting for us to come home, so when you do arrive, take the time to reward your furry companion for their loyalty. What better way to reward your pet’s faithfulness than a stroll around the neighborhood, giving them a chance to stretch their legs and their mind? Your pet has little enrichment at home alone, so a walk in a new location will invigorate them and create a fun, stimulating mental exercise by providing novel sights, scents, people, and animals.
#3: Routine exercise helps keep your pet’s joints healthy
If you don’t use it, you lose it, and that adage applies to your pet’s joint function. Healthy joints are maintained through moderate exercise, which encourages the flow of lubricating synovial fluid found in joints. Plus, physical activity builds strong muscles that will help support your pet’s joints as they age.
#4: Physical activity helps protect your pet against multiple diseases
Fat tissue acts as its own organ, pumping out inflammatory substances and hormones that can interfere with the body’s natural hormones, which regulate appetite, weight, mood, and brain function. As your pet develops more fat from lack of exercise, their health can suffer greatly and weight-related diseases can develop, including:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
Keeping your pet slim and sleek through daily exercise can help lower their risk for a multitude of life-threatening diseases.
#5: Regular exercise burns off excess energy
Some dogs are content to be couch potatoes, but most need daily exercise and mental stimulation to burn off excess energy that can evolve into problem behaviors. Young dogs, and those with high working or energy drives, need a minimum of two to three hours of exercise a day to ward off behavior issues, such as anxiety, aggression, and being destructive. Daily walks are a good place to start, but these dogs often need more intense activity where they can safely run off-leash and burn off excess energy.
#6: Daily walks encourage your pet to engage in lifelong socialization
Many dog owners believe the socialization requirement ends when their pet reaches adulthood. However, socialization should be an ongoing, lifelong process, in which you expose your four-legged friend to new situations, people, and pets in a positive manner. By taking daily walks in various locations, your furry pal will be continuously exposed to new situations, which will help promote a well-balanced, happy dog.
If your pet hasn’t enjoyed a daily exercise program in a while, start slowly. Before you begin, schedule a physical exam with your family veterinarian to ensure your furry pal is in good health. However, if your four-legged friend pulls a muscle or falls victim to some other injury while out exercising, our Pet Emergency Clinic and Referral Center team is here for you. Call us for help.