by Blake Herzog
If you’re concerned about how you’re going to be able to lose a little weight, the last thing you want to worry about is your pet having to do the same thing. But this can be a blessing in disguise, giving you both a chance to get moving together and bond over a healthy lifestyle.
First, pay a visit to your veterinarian to get any dietary and exercise recommendations to follow with your dog or cat.
Dogs’ daily exercise needs vary widely according to size and age, but usually fall between 30 minutes and two hours, the experts say. A half-hour or longer walk can make up a large chunk of your pup’s activity, but playing fetch and other games with toys is also critical — and fun!
Puppies and dogs up to about 2 do better with short bursts of activity such the adorable “zoomies” they perform at random times of the day. Taking these dogs on a series of shorter walks and play sessions are easier on their joints and other developing parts of the body.
Don’t assume your pet is getting much exercise when you’re not there to see it happen. Once they age out of the prime zoomie years they’re likely going to be lounging on the couch. There are pet fitness trackers you can buy if you want hard data on what’s going on while you’re away.
Options for shared exercise may seem more limited for indoor cats, most of whom will not do that well on a leash and have more definite ideas of what to do with their own time. Veterinarians recommend cats get 20 to 60 minutes of physical exercise per day in short bursts (which they usually take care of on their own if they’re outdoors).
Learning your cat’s favorite play activities and most active times of the day, which are usually around dawn and dusk, are key to getting them engaged with you. “Chase” activities with a laser pointer or teaser wand are perfect activities for getting both of you running and pumping.