Have you made New Year’s resolutions to improve your health and happiness this year? What about your pet? Here are some suggestions.

1. Exercise more

Most of our pets could do with more exercise to keep them fit and help prevent obesity. While taking the dog for more or longer walks may seem obvious, what about cats and small pets? You can even get activity monitors for your dog!

With cats, several short bursts of activity are more important than long walks. Encourage hunting play using wand or ‘fishing’ toys (make sure that these are kept out of reach when unsupervised), hide food around the house in interactive feeders. Aim for at least two lots of 5-10 minute playtime every day.

With small pets, increasing the size of their home and the interest in their environment is the best way to improve exercise. For hamsters, gerbils and rats, providing as big a cage as possible with plenty of toys, tunnels and scattering their food around the cage to encourage foraging behaviour enables them to behave more like they would in the wild.

Rabbits should have as large an area as possible with plenty of places to hide and things to sit on. If kept outside, they should have free access to their run area. A system like Runaround is ideal. Indoor rabbits should be able to range around the house as much as possible, but do make sure that all wires and cables are well hidden away!

2. Take up a new activity/sport

Doing a new sport or activity with your dog is a great well to build your relationship, and often to improve the fitness of both of you! There are loads of different things to choose from. Before deciding on an activity, consider the sorts of work your dog was bred from, their age and health. Do discuss this with your vet to help reduce the risk of injury or other health problems.

Suggested sports include:

3. Check your pet’s health

If your pet hasn’t been to the vets for a while, treat them to a general health check. This will help to pick up any early signs of problems when they are much more easily dealt with.

If your pet has annual vaccinations, this health check will usually be included, however more frequent checks are recommended in young or older animals.

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