This post is sponsored by Purina.
In January, I started my quest for health. My goal was to eat right, exercise, blah, blah, blah. But it’s nearing the end of March and I can tell you, it’s working! Apparently perseverance is not one of my strongest qualities but when I put it to good use, I actually get results!
And now that Spring is officially here (although truth be told, we still have small piles of snow in the shady parts of our yard), I’m itching to get outside and to get active. But if you’re like me, you can’t set foot outside without your pet or that old pet guilt will sink in.
You know the look, right?
Normally, he stares right into my eyes or rather right into my soul and it’s so hard to resist! But I shouldn’t resist because he needs to get out and about just as much as I do.
When I work from home, I’m sitting pretty much all day. And you know what my dogs do all day?
Yes, that’s an actual scene from my actual office. We need to change this.
Now is the time to start thinking about ways that you and your pets can get and stay healthy without it being too annoying to either you or them. In fact, I had a chance to chat with Dr. Kurt Venator, a veterinarian who’s also a 14 year veteran of Purina, about the best ways to get fit and fab with your pets.
Feed your pets well, but not too well
Pet obesity has become a major problem in this country but that shouldn’t be too big of a surprise because it’s a problem for their owners as well.
Here’s the thing people don’t realize. Dogs are all different, just like people. There are different breeds, different, personalities, different body types, different metabolisms. And we see that in our house with my dogs Roscoe and Layla.
Layla is a Tibetan Terrier who always seems to be saying what’s going on? what can we do? can we play? can we go outside? I’m bored. Even when Layla finally lays down, she just stares straight ahead, taking a nap when she thinks there’s no fun to be had (or trouble to be made).
Roscoe, on the other hand, is our chubby little shih tzu. In fact, we joke around with him and tell him he’s in chubble when he does something wrong. As a pet owner, I have to face it. He could use a little toning.
When it comes to food, you want to make sure you’re providing them with food that is:
- Well-balanced (I personally use Purina Pro Plan)
- Suited for your pet’s life stage
- Puppies need puppy food (up to 12 months for small to medium breeds, up to 18 months for large and giant breeds)
- Adults need adult food
- Seniors might benefit from senior food (usually age 7 and older)
- Suited for your pet’s lifestyle (active for Layla, not-so-active for Roscoe)
- Accounting for any special needs
- Accounting for any special taste preferences
If you don’t know exactly how much you should be feeding your pet, ask your vet. Seriously. They have charts and can look this stuff up.
When it comes to treats, you definitely want to limit them or even try mixing in some fruits and vegetables as treats (BUT – be sure you know what your pets can and can’t have).
Engage with your pets physically
That sounds like an of course moment. But do you even know how much time you need to spend engaged in physical activity? Or what kinds of physical activity?
This is where I got worried. It’s where I was sure Dr. Kurt would tell me I was a terrible pet owner because I don’t take my little fancy dogs on long hikes. Turns out I’m doing okay.
Here’s what he recommends:
30 minutes of activity per day for smaller dogs (that’s great because I start each day with at least a 15 minute walk!)
30 minutes of rigorous activity per day for larger dogs with 1-2 hours of other activity
20 minutes of activity per day for cats
Engage your pets in mental activity
Remember when I said Layla seems bored sometimes? It’s because SHE IS.
Cats and dogs are social creatures and need engagement. It contributes to their overall emotional well being. Here are a few quick tips for playing better with your pets.
- For dogs, try teaching them tricks or commands. It’s not only stimulating but the rewards are gratifying.
- For cats, engage in predatory play. Use play mice or feather toys to help stimulate their natural hunting behavior.
- For both dogs and cats, rotate the toys they have available to play. Keeping only a few toys available for play on one day and swapping them out for different toys the next day allows them to stay stimulated and engaged.
But remember, most of all, your pets want to play with YOU.
When in doubt, ask your vet
In addition to listening to Dr. Kurt’s advice, I asked questions and learned from other participants like when to take your puppy to an off leash dog park, how to handle a dog walk in the heat, what to do on rainy days, and even the benefits that pet ownership has on human health.
So many of these conversations can be had with your own veterinarian so don’t be shy when asking about diet, exercise, and health. Just make sure you’re asking about your pet and not you.