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The Importance of Exercise and Playtime for Pets

blog header exercise 

As we all know, plenty of exercise coupled with a good diet leads to a longer and healthier life. The same applies to our pets too! Exercise is great for keeping muscles toned, maintaining a healthy weight and good metabolism, and can also help engage the mind.

Not only does keeping fit hold many health benefits for our pets, but it can also have a positive effect on their behaviour. To help avoid the horror of returning home one day to a messy house, broken furniture and a very guilty pet, please make sure you set aside some time to walk or play with your pet – it can help prevent boredom and allow them to let off some steam! Keeping your pet active doesn’t necessarily need to take a long time either and can often be fun for you too!


Ideally, you should exercise your precious pooch daily for approximately 30 minutes to an hour, but some breeds do require more physical activity than others! We recommend visiting your local vet for a health check prior to any exercise programme. This way, your vet will be able to check your doggy is fighting fit and in tip-top condition before taking part in exercise. They can also recommend an appropriate length of time for exercise to correspond with your specific breed(s).    

The most obvious way to keep your canine companion fit is to go for walks. It’s a great way to bond with your furry friend and you can also include favourite games like fetch to keep any overly energetic dogs entertained! Try to introduce ‘walkies’ at the same time each day so your pet can come to expect and look forward to them.

As our pooches enter into their senior years they can find themselves without the stamina they once had, leaving them unable to run as fast or jump as high. However, it is still important they maintain regular exercise for healthy bodies, hearts and minds, even if it is just a short walk around the neighbourhood.

If you’re the proud owner of a senior pooch and want to ensure they still get involved in physical activity, it would be a good idea to introduce indoor exercises. Helping them move around the house by following you up and down stairs to keep the joints and muscles loose or moving around furniture can keep them active in a gentle way.

Additionally, if your pet suffers from joint problems or arthritis then hydrotherapy might be a great option for them. Your vet should be able to inform you whether there are any classes nearby. 


While outdoor cats can usually get the exercise required by exploring the neighbourhood, it can sometimes be a little more difficult to ensure indoor cats remain active – especially when the sofa is often too comfortable!

Exercising with your kitty is a great way to bond with them and indoor cats require a minimum of 10-15 minutes per day! Setting off a battery-powered furry mouse for them to chase or tying a feather, bell or furry toy onto the end of some string and encouraging them to follow it can be extremely fun for cats (sometimes even the older ones)! Please remember to ensure that no household items run the risk of becoming a choking hazard. We recommend monitoring playtime to ensure your purrrecious pet stays safe!

However, if your feline friend does not seem to engage with extended playtime you could always try to introduce games a little more slowly, beginning with just a couple of minutes. Sometimes it can take a little patience and encouragement to get your furry friend up and off the sofa, but once you find an activity they feel inclined to take part in then you’re set!

Any physical activity that can imitate hunting is usually the best. Shining a torch or laser toy against the wall, on a higher object or along the floor encourages your cat to run, climb or jump. Cats love being able to get up high so this should inspire them to start exploring!

However, if your kitty is a little stubborn, don’t be afraid to get creative. For example, if your cat is a curious sort then it may be worth trying to walk them on a lead. However, please be careful and ensure you monitor them very closely so they do not accidentally (or sneakily) slip out of the harness! Alternatively, your local vet should be able to provide a few ideas for you and talk you through some options. 

Small Furries

We all love our cuddly small furries, but it’s also important to ensure they get enough exercise too! As rabbits and guinea pigs are crepuscular – most active at dawn and dusk – allowing them time to enjoy their runs while you are at home can work out rather nicely for you too!

Both rabbits and guinea pigs will enjoy hopping or scampering around large, secure runs. You’ll need to ensure they are safe too just in case! Rabbits tend to benefit from at least four hours of exercise per day! Whilst their upper and lower front teeth continuously grow and they regularly munch on food (particularly fibre) to keep these worn down, it’s important to include regular exercise otherwise they might become a little plump. To prevent a rabbit or guinea pig overeating and eventually running the risk of dealing with health problems due to obesity, please ensure they enjoy an adequate amount of exercise, which will help keep them fit and healthy!

Additionally, if you rabbit-proof or guinea-proof your environment (i.e. hiding plug sockets and covering wires etc.), your beloved small furry can roam around freely within the comfort and safety of your house.

Our friendly staff are always happy to answer any queries you may have, so feel free to pop by for a chat or give them a call using our handy online practice finder.

We hope you and your beloved pet enjoy spending some quality time together, while keeping fit and healthy, and your pets reap the benefits of regular exercise!  

Posted January 29, 2016 in Pet Care Advice

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