While you know that your furry pal, especially if they are young, needs plenty of exercise and fun, you may not fully understand the importance of your pet’s physical activity and mental stimulation. A quick jog around the block or a few minutes’ play is simply not enough to keep your pet happy and healthy, but you can sneak in many engaging activities. Switch from a regular food bowl to a puzzle feeder, head to an off-leash park to play fetch, switch out your pet’s toys for continued novelty, and encourage your pet to sniff out treats by playing scent games. You and your dog can practice old skills, enroll in obediences classes to learn new tricks, or try a new canine sport. Your cat will appreciate additional climbing opportunities with a new climbing tower, and exercising their predatory side with prey-like toys.
Your pet will reap the benefits of added physical activity and mental stimulation opportunities. Our Pet Resort at Stone Ridge professionals present five reasons why physical and mental activities are crucial for your pet’s health and happiness.
#1: Activities prevent pets’ problem behaviors
Bored pets often entertain themselves by doing something mischievous, destructive, or dangerous. Puppies left to their own devices may chew furniture and rugs, or dig holes under the backyard fence to visit the neighbor dog. A bored cat can become an aggressive bully, or may begin urinating outside the litter box.
Without proper physical exercise and mental stimulation, pets regularly develop these problem behaviors and many more. Understimulated pets are more likely than active and mentally stimulated pets to show generalized and separation anxiety. Dogs who need more mental stimulation are more likely to display reactivity and fear aggression. If your pet lacks the outlets to satisfy their physical activity and mental health needs, they can develop unpleasant and harmful behaviors.
#2: Bored pets can develop physical ailments
Not only can pets’ lack of physical and mental activity lead to behavior problems, their boredom can also cause medical issues. Cats who become stressed because they lack environmental enrichment (i.e., physical and mental stimulation) are more likely to develop feline idiopathic cystitis, which causes painful bladder inflammation and inappropriate urination. Bored pets may also lick excessively, and develop hair loss, sores, and skin infections.
#3: Physical activities and mental stimulation provide a solid foundation
Training, exercising, and playing with your puppy or kitten build a great foundation for their healthy body and mind. Play strengthens the human-animal bond, and the physical and mental activities give your young pet the opportunity to burn energy, learn commands, and understand acceptable behavior. In addition, keeping your young puppy or kitten physically and mentally engaged helps ward off the myriad problem behaviors that cause many owners to relinquish their pets to animal shelters.
#4: Mentally stimulating activities help prevent cognitive dysfunction in aging pets
Pets need enrichment their entire lives, not only while they are young. By encouraging your adult pet to learn new tricks, sniff for treats, solve a food puzzle, or survey their domain from the top of a climbing tower, you can encourage their cognitive function well into their golden years. As pets age, they can suffer from cognitive dysfunction, which is similar to Alzheimer’s disease. Decreased cognitive function can cause senior pets anxiety and stress if they forget their food bowl location, how the door opens, and familiar faces.
#5: Regular exercise wards off pets’ obesity
With more than half the pet population classified as overweight or obese, now is the time to institute your furry pal’s regular exercise regimen. Overweight pets are more likely to suffer from osteoarthritis, cranial cruciate ligament tears, soft tissue sprains and strains, and other injuries related to excess weight. By helping your pet maintain their ideal body weight, you can help prevent these musculoskeletal issues in addition to obesity.
If you work long hours and have less time than you would like to play with your pet, daycare and boarding options may offer the interaction they need. Contact our Pet Resort of Stone Ridge team to learn about your four-legged friend’s playtime options.