I’m not sure if anyone has ever polled New Year’s resolutions to determine the most popular life-changing declarations made annually, but I imagine losing weight, exercising more, and breaking bad habits top the list.
When it comes to our feline and canine fur kids, the same sentiments probably apply. Here are three resolutions to help your pets put their best paw forward in 2016.
Rev up the exercise routine
More than 50 percent of dogs and cats are overweight, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. Fortunately, a lifestyle change such as exercising more is something that pet parents can do together with their pets for their mutual benefit.
Exercise is key to optimal health for both cats and dogs. Most dogs benefit from several good walks each day. In the winter weather, rather than take them on shorter walks, increase the number of outings for the day to help keep them in shape.
One way to stay active in cold weather is to take your dog for a walk in a pet-friendly indoor mall. You’ll both stay warm and dry, and you can window shop at the same time.
Treadmills are also a great way to exercise, and doggie treadmills replicate the same benefits for dogs. Different makes and models are available, so be sure to do your research to ensure you are buying the right size for your pet.
For cat owners, it’s easy to rev up a feline exercise routine with a laser toy. But remember that laser play is not a fair game because cats don’t actually get to catch anything. So reward them with a yummy treat – as long as it’s a low-calorie type. And be sure to deduct treat calories from your cat’s daily food allowance.
Short games with a wand toy cats can chase are a great form of exercise, too. For cats that like to play fetch, throw the toys as far as you can so that they really have to move to retrieve them. If you live in a two-story home, consider throwing the toys down the stairs to make it a real cardio workout.
A game of about 10 minutes will be enough to hold your cat’s attention. Try to introduce playtime twice a day. Daily exercise offers felines mental and physical stimulation. All the members of the household, including the kids, can step in and take charge of playtime.
Cats can also be trained to walk on a leash. If you live in an apartment building, simply going for walks down the hall will give your cat a nice workout.
Stop chewing things around the home
When dogs are bored, they can get into trouble, chewing and destroying furniture, shoes, and other items around the home, such as the TV remote control.
There are lots of wonderful toys to keep dogs engaged when they’re home alone. To distract your pooch, fill a hard rubber toy with peanut butter – just make sure it’s low fat and doesn’t contain Xylitol (an artificial sweetener that is poisonous for pets).
Puzzle games are available for both cats and dogs to keep them engaged. Or consider creating a treasure hunt for your pet by hiding favorite toys, along with some treats, in different parts of the home so your pet has to work to sniff them out.
Quit scratching furniture
It’s important to remember that scratching is normal feline behavior. Apart from sharpening their claws, cats also scratch to mark their territory, exercise, and reduce stress.
The key is to get them to scratch in appropriate places, such as scratching pads and posts. Remember that cats often scratch after napping. The routine is snooze, stretch, scratch. So place a scratching post or pad near your cat’s favorite snooze zone.
You can never have too make scratchers in the home. The more you have, the more likely your cat will gravitate to them and leave your furniture and interior woodwork alone.
When introducing a new scratcher, put a little catnip on it and scratch with your fingers while your cat is watching you. Your feline will instinctively copy what you have just done.
Making good on all three resolutions will be a win-win for you and your pets.
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