Lanzarote Vet Jane Burke addresses New Year’s aches, pains and weight gain, and suggests some ways to get into the exercise routine with your furry friends.
I have always felt New Year would be better celebrated in April, when the weather brightens and the flowers start to bloom, and also when the numbers of pets presented for severe rheumatic and/or arthritic problems decrease.
The cold nights and our tiled floors exacerbate our own and our pets’ aches and pains. Despite my patients having luxurious beds and warm bedding, many prefer to snooze on the cold floor and many are still suffering the effects of overfeeding and unwise tit-bitting during Christmas celebrations, causing sudden weight gain and adding to their joint pain.
But here we are: the parties are over, the hangovers are fading, the weather is vacillating from lovely sunny spells to bitingly cold winds and damp chilly nights, and our ambitions and New Year resolutions are still waiting to begin. If you haven´t settled on any yet, or are waiting for the hangovers to fade before you start, here’s a few suggestions for exercising your pets (and you).
First, don’t be overambitious! You and your furry family are less likely to get sore paws, tendon strains and disc problems if your exercise program involves both warm-up and cool-down periods of gentle stretching and walking, and gradual increases in the overall exercising period itself. A realistic aim is to increase opportunities for your dog’s walking time by 10%.
I cannot approve of dogs being taken running, or following horses or bikes. Cats and dogs were designed for a short, mad dash to catch prey, not jogging. The results can be lifelong joint pain. (It does, however, provides plenty of work for veterinary orthopods but several of the consequences lead to livelong joint pain).
It’s a great idea to consider joining a dog-training class. These are great opportunities to meet likeminded people, and for you and your dog to learn new things together. Or perhaps just arrange to walk with friend ( plus or minus dogs) once a week. Offer to take an elderly acquaintance out with you and yours for a gentle stroll and share a coffee afterwards?
Basically, make firm plans to increase you and your canine family’s structured outside exercise time to be a little longer EVERY DAY, and find a space, at least once a week, to make it a social occasion you can all enjoy. Health, fresh air and socialising – it’s all good.
Whist exercising our cats is not so easy, it can and should be done! Far too many pet cats get fat and old too early because there is no balance in their energy input and output. Disposable cat toys are easy enough to construct with a bit of string and a shiny toy or crinkly paper. And don`t just sit there like a conductor – running around the room or the house. for three minutes before each feed can make a big difference. The biggest and best difference is to pick up and lock away the feed bowls after every meal and NEVER return to unlimited, ad-lib access!
Remember that shared water bowls need cleaning more than daily if you have more than one pet. And if you have droolers, (basset hounds, St Bernards etc), don`t forget that a clean looking bowl may be full of slobber! So get them well washed and brimming with sparking clean water
before you join me in a toast to a new year full of finding small kindnesses we can share with our furry family.
As animal lovers, your first resolution should be to reduce your financial input into the meat and dairy industries. Moving towards a plant-based diet means moving towards a lifestyle where you are less responsible for cruelty. Similarly, insisting on getting all your animals neutered or spayed will reduce the suffering that surrounds us each day.
Read my article in last month’s magazine for tips on cutting down on your animal’s food intake. Along with the exercise already mentioned, this is a guaranteed way to improve the health of those you love.
As pet lovers, your best resolution should simply include spending more quality time with them, and less time cuddling up in front of the television. Pay attention to your pets and that love will be returned.
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