Fit pets lead longer, happier and more active lives. They’re less prone to expensive-to-fix illnesses too, helping to keep pet insurance premiums down.
As we’ve calculated before, having an overweight pet could cost as much as £7,000, so keeping your companion in top shape makes financial sense.
So, what can you do to get your pet fighting fit?
Let’s take a look at a few ideas for cats and dogs…
Regular walks, vigorous play and a balanced diet all help keep Fido fit.
Dogs are naturally balls of energy, and the best thing is that lots of dogs are quite happy to get involved in human workouts like running and cycling – though we’d probably stop short of giving them their own bike.
But hold up! Before you slip into your lycra and hit the pavement, there are a few things to consider first – like a trip to the vet.
Your vet will be able to check whether your pet is healthy enough to run – if they’re too overweight, it might not be wise to take them out with you until they’ve slimmed down a bit.
Likewise, it’s not recommended that younger or older dogs go running either. And if your dog is unruly and chases after pedestrians and cyclists at the drop of a hat, it might not be a good idea to take them out without a lead.
Just like you wouldn’t delve into running a marathon without building up your fitness first, the same goes for your mutt – start off with gentle jogs before building up to more demanding runs. Keep a ready supply of water with you when you’re out and keep an eye out for signs of dehydration.
If you’re really serious about running or cycling with your dog, there are all sorts of helpful bits of kit that can help you and your dog maintain a safe distance from each other. Flashing collars and leads are very useful and will allow your pooch to be seen – particularly useful at this gloomy and dark time of year.
Let’s be very clear – the chances of tethering your cat to a lead and yomping around the park with them are slim to none. But that’s not to say that you can’t help them get some exercise and develop the bond you have, too.
Spending about 10 minutes a day larking around with your cat can help them get much fitter. Cats’ natural prey instincts mean that they’re absolutely barmy for playing. Well, when the mood takes them.
Cats are at their most active in the very early morning and last thing at night, so these are the best times to play with them. Fishing toys, balls with bells in them – even crumpled-up receipts can make for an ideal exercise tool for cats.
If you’re having trouble rousing your cat for a session of high-spirited antics, you could do worse than investing in some high-grade catnip, or toys infused with the (perfectly safe and legal!) psychoactive feline stimulant.
It’ll transform your curmudgeonly moggie into a whirling dervish of kittenish hijinks, and provide you with a few chuckles to boot.
The key is to catching your cat's interest is moving their toy about in the way their prey would move – so, if you’ve got a fishing-rod style toy, try wiggling it around in a way that imitates a mouse. To really send them wild, hide it under the sofa or a rug….