As the COVID-19 pandemic restricted our movements and access to basic needs, pet owners have problems maintaining their pets’ healthy lifestyles. Since people have to stay indoors, they cannot visit dog parks and other pet facilities for safety reasons. In countries like Singapore, most pet owners order dog food and cat food online, together with other pet essentials.
The pandemic is not the only reason that keeps our pets indoors. The cold months are also challenging for pets and their fur parents. Dogs rarely get taken out for walks in places with extremely low temperatures, and regular exercise is a rare occurrence. This drives the pet to be more sluggish and inactive, which results in sudden weight gain.
Failure to keep your pet active even indoors can cause many health risks, such as obesity, chronic illness, a higher risk for arthritis, certain tumors, and a shorter life span. For these reasons, pet owners should be responsible enough to meet their fur babies’ lifestyle needs to prevent future health effects. In this article, we’ll discuss the dangers of pet’s sedentary lifestyles and activities to do with your pets indoors.
The dangers of having inactive pets
Pets that remain inactive indoors cannot use all their stored energy, which can lead to behavioral problems. Performing little to no physical activity makes them prone to aggressive or destructive behavior and poor social skills.
With so many distractions in our modern life, some pet owners neglect their pets’ physical activity. They just let them roam indoors and sleep whenever they want. Just like people, pets with sedentary lifestyles are prone to physical and mental health risks.
Since more people spend more time at work, pets have to spend the entire day in solitude. Their exercise may be limited to playing around with toys for a few minutes. If this goes on, dogs will divert their excess energy into destroying household items. Others experience heightened aggression towards people and other dogs. Chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and diabetes, are common among inactive animals, while obese pets are likely to have joint problems.
A sedentary lifestyle can also adversely affect a pet’s mental health. Inactive pets show symptoms of boredom, stress, and anxiety, which leads to obsessive-compulsive disorder. Those who have it are likely to live a poor social life and unable to develop their social, emotional, and cognitive skills.
How much physical activity do pets need?
Depending on the age, breed, and health condition, each pet requires specific amounts of activity time. On average, dogs need 30 to 60 minutes of daily exercise, while cats need 30 minutes of play sessions.
Lazy breeds such as Bullmastiffs and French bulldogs will only require 30 minutes of a slow walk. Active dogs such as Dalmatians will need more than one hour of high-intensity exercise daily. You should also take note of each dog’s training peculiarities. Huskies are marathon runners that need longer physical activity, while sprinters, such as Jack Russell terriers, require intensive training instead of long, monotonous ones.
For cats, experts suggest that 30 minutes of moderate exercise is enough. It’s difficult to force pets, particularly cats, to play even if they don’t want to. Cats are naturally less active than dogs, so you need to exert more effort to encourage them to move.
Indoor exercise for pets
There are plenty of items and places at home where you can get your dog moving indoors. One example is to make them run up and down the stairs to exercise their joints. You can also arrange obstacle courses around the house by crawling under tables and jumping over chairs.
Another fun way to exercise with dogs is to play hide-and-seek. You can hide treats in different areas of the house and teach the dog to search them. You can also try playing hide-and-seek together by letting your dog find you all over the house.
When it comes to cats, the best way to encourage them to stay active is to spend a few minutes of playtime at least two to three times a day. Pick a toy that will make them run around, such as a laser pointer, feather, and other interactive items. You don’t have to play with them for the whole 30 minutes since they prefer to keep their play sessions short.
While it’s a great feeling to bond with our pets indoors, too much is also not healthy. If you can’t visit the park, look for other ways to get them moving. This is a perfect time to strengthen the bond with your pets and carve out some quality time amid your busy schedule.