Exercising Your New Puppy

150-1-puppy_exerciseWhat’s not to love about puppies? They are cute, cuddly, funny and full of energy. Their energy level is typically one of the most challenging behaviors for new dog owners. Puppies are like the energizer bunny, they go and go and go…and then crash for a quick nap and then they are up and at it again.

Smart owners channel that energy into productive outlets. Many owners learn that lesson the hard way because if you don’t channel it, your pup will find their own ways to channel it and it may be at the expense of your new running shoes, or the sofa pillows. Under-exercised dogs can be destructive, and this is particularly true for puppies because they have yet to learn good behavior from bad, so everything within reach is fair game.

Puppies exercise needs differ from adult dogs, so don’t think you can take them out for a 3-mile run or a 60-minute walk each morning and be set. A puppy’s growth plates are not fully formed until about 18 months and during that time strenuous or lengthy exercise could in fact be harmful to them.

Growth plates are the softer tissue found near the ends of their bones that calcify and form bone as they age. Because these plates are softer than bone, they can be injured more easily. You must be mindful of these limitations when seeking to exercise your puppy.

Here’s a few tips on effective and productive exercises for puppies (age 14 weeks – 1 year):

  • Short duration walks or swims.
  • Tug of War – remember they only have puppy teeth, so not too rough.
  • Fetch – this game will serve them well for a lifetime, teach it early.
  • Follow the Leader.

As your puppy ages, you can add more strenuous exercises to their routine:

  • Extend duration of walks and swims and increase the speed.
  • Obedience work, sit, stay, high five, rollover and other basic commands.
  • Low jumps and other simple obstacles.

You should keep these exercise sessions to 10-20 minutes two or three times a day at first and build their endurance as they age. A good rule of thumb offered by The Kennel Club of the UK regarding how much exercise your pup needs is 5 minutes of exercise for every 1 month of age, so if your pup is 3 months old then 15 minutes of exercise is suitable, 4 months of age – 20 minutes of exercise, etc.

Remember, all dogs, even puppies need mental stimulation too, so “find-it” games or treat toys are very effective for puppies. And don’t neglect their socialization during this time. Puppy classes where they can interact with other pups and learn some basic commands are a great outlet both mentally and physically for your pup.

Once their growth plates close and your vet approves, probably at around 12-18 months, you can begin more consistent and longer walks, hikes, swims and even short runs on a flat surface and slowly build up their stamina and strength.

You will have to be the one to put the brakes on as puppies, like kids, think they are indestructible and will run hard and fast and jump and twist and tumble. Just keep in mind what we said about their growth plates and try to exercise them safely.






Healthy Ingredients for Your Pet: Quinoa

147-1-quinoaThe next ingredient we’re introducing in our ongoing series on Healthy Ingredients for Your Pet is Quinoa. Quinoa has stormed the human health food scene in recent years as a healthy alternative to carb-rich pasta and rice. There are hundreds of varieties of quinoa, but it is typically found in white, tan or red forms.

What is Quinoa?
Quinoa is thought of as a grain, but actually it is a seed. It originated thousands of years ago and is considered an “ancient grain” like amaranth, barley and farro.

Why would Quinoa be in pet food?

Quinoa packs a huge nutritional punch and is good for humans as wells as your pets. It is a gluten-free whole grain that contains high levels of protein as well as vitamins B-1, B-2, and B-6 and vitamin E, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It also provides minerals such as magnesium, phosphate, iron, calcium and potassium.

Quinoa is a complete protein that also contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fat and plenty of omega-3 fatty acids.

Are there any risks to feeding your pet Quinoa?
Not really. Their seed coating can be bitter as the contain saponins, a naturally occurring chemical produced by the quinoa plant to repel insects. This coating is typically removed during processing, although trace amounts may cause mild stomach irritation although that is unlikely.

Quinoa factoids:

  • NASA has proposed that quinoa would make an ideal food for long duration space flights.
  • Quinoa was known as “the gold of the Incas” by the Aztecs who discovered it.
  • Quinoa can be used to help control the development kidney stones because of its high levels of potassium.

A sampling of pet foods that contain quinoa:
Nutram, T22 Grain Free Turkey, Chicken & Duck
Holistic Select, Anchovy, Sardine & Salmon
Pronature Holistic, Duck a la Orange






How to Clean Your Dog’s Ears

148-1-dog_earsA dog’s ears can come in all shapes and sizes. Some stand at attention, some may flop over and some hang down almost to the ground. The one thing they all have in common is they collect dirt and wax, just like human ears.

It’s easy to check to see if your dog’s ears need cleaning, just lift them up and take a look. You may see a dark waxy build-up or redness inside their ear. Or you may smell an odor emanating from them. You may also see your dog scratching at the ear or rubbing it along the ground. If you see any of those signs, it’s probably time for a good cleaning.

Cleaning your dog’s ears is much easier than clipping their toenails which we covered a few weeks ago. There are plenty of cleaning solutions available over-the-counter or from your veterinarian that are designed to help soften the ear wax, or you can use a home solution of equal parts vinegar and water.

Simple Tips for Cleaning

  • Start by giving your dog a nice massage and a gentle belly rub to relax them. Having a few treats handy to distract them is always a good idea. The only other equipment you need is some cotton swabs or cotton balls. Don’t use q-tips.
  • Hold your dog’s head and tilt them gently downward and to the side as you add a small amount of the solution (5-6 drops) into their ear. Massage the solution in at the bottom of your dog’s ear, working it in to help loosen and dislodge any dirt. You will hear it squish around in the ear canal – perfectly normal.
  • Your dog will probably want to shake their head – let them. This also helps disperse the solution and loosen up some of the dirt.
  • Take a cotton swab you’ve moistened with the cleaning solution and gently clean the inside of your dog’s ear. Begin with the flap which you can easily see and slowly work your way into their ear canal. Continue wiping, changing cotton swabs as needed until you capture all the dirt. You may need to add a little more solution but use it sparingly.
  • Be gentle as you wipe as the insides of their ears are sensitive. Be aware that dog’s ears are shaped differently than humans, so you can swab a little deeper into their ear canal than you would on yourself, just stop when you feel resistance.
  • If your dog’s ears are particularly dirty, you may need to perform this cleaning daily until the dirt and buildup is under control. Once cleared up, a weekly check and cleaning as needed is all that is required.
  • If your dog seems particularly uncomfortable or there is a great deal of discharge or odor coming from their ears, it’s probably worth a trip to the vet to check for any signs of infection. If so, it can usually be treated with a good thorough cleaning and some antibiotics.
  • 148-3-dog_ears
    No dog is immune to developing ear issues. Dogs with pointed ears or dogs with floppy ears are both susceptible to problems. In the first case, they are either open to the air and can get all sorts of things in there or in the second case, they are floppy, moist petri dishes, essentially breeding grounds for bacteria.

    Poor ear care and ear infections can impact your dog’s overall health and certainly their hearing and behavior, so be sure to check them on a regular basis.





How Smart is Your Dog?

146-1-smart_dogIn the last few years, we have seen several dog intelligence tests introduced as a fun way to measure how smart your dog is. Most of these tests employ simple games designed to measure your dog’s intelligence, and some even claim to assess their personalities!

Dog intelligence can be thought of as the ability of your dog to think, understand, learn, and remember. According to the experts, those that study dog cognition, dog’s intelligence varies greatly from breed to breed and even within a breed.

It is commonly accepted that the Border Collie is the most intelligent breed, and indeed some of them are very smart, developing a vocabulary of 800 words (measured by their ability to identify toys with a specific name). One theory is that breeds like the Border Collie and other “intelligent” breeds like the Poodle, Retrievers, German Shepherd, are perceived to be more intelligent because their interaction with humans is driven by their ability to expertly read human cues and signals.

Dogs on the other end of the intelligence scale, such as the Boxer, Chow or Afghan Hound are much older breeds who have interacted with humans for centuries more and have developed more independence from humans and do not rely on reading their signals to do their work. Interesting hypothesis, and since dogs can’t really tell us whether it’s true or not, we don’t know if it is fact.

Stanley Coren, a well-known professor of psychology, has studied dog intelligence for years and published a book entitled The Intelligence of Dogs. Within the book, Coren claims that 51% of a dog’s intelligence comes from their genes and the remaining, from their environment. He also published a list ranking dog breeds by their intelligence.

Researchers like Coren, who study this aspect of dog behavior, typically utilize simple tests that are designed to:

  • Measure the ability of the dog to figure things out, to solve problems. This may involve finding hidden treats or figuring out treat-dispensing toys.
  • Assess the ability to observe humans and communicate with them. Can your dog interpret your gestures, do they follow where you are pointing or where your eyes travel?
  • Judge the ability to learn new behaviors. How many repetitions of a behavior does it take before your dog has mastered the sit or down commands? This is a key indicator according to Coren with the most intelligent breeds learning new behaviors with just 5 repetitions!

Interested in testing your dog? Here’s a few simple examples you can try at home:

Problem solving: In full view of your pup, place three paper cups spaced about 12” apart in front of them. Hide a treat under one of the cups, walk away and release your pet to find the treat. If they go right for the cup with the treat than they are pretty good problem solvers. If they sit and stare at you, well, they may need some extra homework.

Communication skills: Similar to the above test, place two paper cups about 18” apart. Without allowing your pet to see, place some treats under one of the cups, step back and then point to the cup with the treat. Does he go directly to the cup you point to or does he sniff around trying to smell the treats first?

Learning new behaviors: If you’ve already taught your dog sit, or stay, then you probably have an idea of the effort that went into that exercise. Try a new behavior like high-five or roll-over and see how long it takes them to master the behavior.

As mentioned above, there are lots of dog intelligence test kits on the market. In addition to being a really fun bonding activity with your pet, it can also help you understand them and their behavior a little better. Try one and let us know how it goes!







Tips for Choosing the Right Pet for Your Family

144-1-family_petOver the last few weeks, we’ve written about Why You Should Adopt a Pet and how Animal Shelters and Rescues Work. Today we’re going to give you some tips on CHOOSING the right pet for you and your family.

The very first decision you have to make is what kind of pet would be right for your family. Will it be a dog, a cat, rabbits, fish, birds, or something more exotic like snakes or a ferret? There is certainly a wide variety of animals to choose from. We’re going to focus our suggestions to dogs and cats since they are by far the most common pet with 48% of households owning a dog and 38% owning a cat according to a recent survey by the American Pet Products. Still, many of our suggestion can naturally be applied to any pet you are considering.

Factors to consider when choosing a pet:
Your first decision is what breed of dog or cat do you want? Both dogs and cats come in all shapes and sizes as well as energy levels, grooming needs and personalities. You need to consider all of these factors when deciding on the type of pet and whether you want a purebred pet from a breeder or breed specific rescue, or whether you want to rescue a pet from the shelter.

Once you’ve decided on a dog or cat and the breed, the next question to tackle is whether you want a puppy, an adult or a senior pet? There are pros and cons to each, puppies are great fun, but a LOT of work. Seniors are usually very well-behaved and make great companions, but they might have existing medical issues. Be sure and weigh all the pros and cons of each age group.

Family Needs
It’s important that all family members are on board with the decision to get a pet. The entire family will be interacting with them, so it’s important they all know the new rules you want to instill. It doesn’t help if dad feeds the pup from the table when mom is trying to teach them not to beg! It’s also important to discuss responsibilities, who feeds the newcomer, who walks them, etc.

You should also consider any family health issues or allergies and plan accordingly.

Be aware of the costs associated with pet ownership. It’s one thing many people don’t factor into their decision. Pets require regular veterinary care, at least annual check-ups. And if they develop any medical issues, it can get quite expensive. You can mitigate that expense with pet insurance which works the same as human insurance with the insurer paying a portion of the medical care. This financial support is particularly important if you are adopting a senior pet.

There are also grooming costs to consider. A long-haired dog or cat may require regular grooming and even regular trips to the barber for a trim.

Exercise requirements
Both dogs and cats need exercise to keep in tip-top shape. We are suffering from a pet obesity problem in this country, as many pet owners don’t realize they are overfeeding their pets. This contributes to health issues and you should do your best to keep your pet at a normal weight.

Some pets require 2-3 hours of sustained exercise a DAY, yes, you read that right. That’s a couple of good long walks, a run or a long hike to keep them well-exercised. Some pets don’t require as much and are content with a leisurely stroll around the block. It’s critical that you know your pet’s needs before you fall in love with a breed that isn’t compatible with your lifestyle.

All these factors are important to consider when choosing a pet. We recommend a bit of research before making your decision. Read up on your breed and know what you are getting into before you fall in love with that cute puppy or kitten.






5 Reasons to Microchip Your Pet

145-1-pet_chipOne of the most effective means of protecting your dog or cat from being lost or stolen is microchipping them. The month of May is “Chip Your Pet Month” so we wanted to write about the benefits of protecting your pet by microchipping them.

The American Humane Society estimates over 10 million dogs or cats are reported lost each year. Unfortunately, a large percentage of those lost pets are never returned to their owner. There could be a number of reasons for the failure to reunite, but top of the list is the inability to identify and contact the owner.

Let’s take a closer look at what a “microchip” is and how the process of microchipping your pet works.

Microchips are tiny computer chips, about the size of a grain of rice. They are implanted under your pet’s skin by a veterinarian using a large bore needle without anesthesia, similar to a simple vaccination. Each microchip carries a registration number that is associated with the owner’s name and contact information. This information is added to a pet registry service offered by the chip manufacturer.

The registry information on the chips can be read using a handheld reader that displays the information so that the owner can be identified. Most shelters and veterinarians have these readers and can scan the pet and contact the owner if the pet is lost. One limitation is that the readers are not universal, so it’s best to get your pet chipped with a common brand so the likelihood that the chip can be read is increased.

Benefits of Microchipping:

  • Most pet owners buy their dogs and cats collars and add a name tag with the pet’s name and their phone number. These are great, but outdated. They can easily break, fall off, or even the name or phone number can wear off of the tag over time. The microchip is permanent and can’t be separated from the pet.
  • If your dog or cat is lost or stolen, the chip and it’s registration is definitive proof of ownership. This is particularly helpful in the case of stolen pets when ownership might be in dispute.
  • A chip greatly increases the likelihood that your pet will be returned to you if they are lost. Several recent studies show that cats with microchips are 20 times more likely to be returned to their owner and chipped dogs are returned 2.5 more than unchipped dogs. That’s a pretty significant difference and with over 10 million pets being lost each year, you want to do everything you can to ensure your pet finds its way back to your home.
  • Some chip manufacturers are enhancing the chips capabilities and adding functionality. Innovations we have seen is the ability to program the chip to open your dog door only when your dog approaches. This can be helpful in keeping out stray critters that may find their way into your home. Some manufacturers also offer lost pet alerting services and even travel assistance for folks who like to take their pets along on their holiday.
  • Finally, microchips last a lifetime. Once implanted, you don’t have to worry about them, although it is a good idea to have your vet scan your pet each year to guard against any malfunction.


Since May is Microchip your Pet Month, many veterinarians are offering special pricing for this service. Microchipping is fairly inexpensive ($40-$50), especially when you consider the cost of losing your family pet.





Getting to Know Your Boxer

143-1-boxerThis week we are featuring the Boxer in our Getting to Know Your Dog Breed series. The Boxer is part of the Working group of the AKC and ranks just outside the top ten at #11.

Life expectancy: Boxers have a fairly short life expectancy of only 8 – 10 years.

Size: They are a medium to large sized, stocky dog, weighing in around 65-80 pounds and standing between 21-25 inches tall.

Color: The standard coloring for Boxer is beige, brown or brindle with white or black markings.

Origins: The Boxer is thought to be a descendent of a German breed called Bullenbeisser or ‘bull-baiter’. They were used as a hunting dog to run down bears, boars and bison. Eventually, through further breeding with mastiffs, bulldogs, great danes and even terriers, the Boxer as we know them today emerged. They were the first known police dogs and were also used to control livestock by butchers.

Personality: Boxer’s are fun-loving and playful breed but also very loyal and protective to their family. They are particularly fond of children and watch over them closely. Boxers are intelligent, so proper and consistent training is essential to keep them happy, healthy and well-behaved. They can become quite destructive if their mental stimulation and exercise needs are not met.

Health Issues: Boxer’s have a thin coat and do not easily tolerate hot or cold weather. Be sure to keep them indoors when the weather is unsuitable.
The most serious of the Boxer’s health issues are a genetic predisposition for various heart diseases including aortic stenosis, atrial septal defects, and dilated cardiomyopathy. Treating these conditions should be proactive and preventative. When buying a Boxer puppy, seek out a breeder familiar with these issues who practices prevention in their breeding program.

Boxers are also susceptible to several eye conditions, including retinal atrophy and cherry eye, or protrusion of the tear duct.

Bloat, or gastric torsion is also common among Boxer’s so be aware and watchful for those symptoms.

Fitness/energy level:
Boxers are high energy and need a good daily dose of exercise and play. As we mentioned, they can become destructive if bored, so be sure and manage their energy levels appropriately. As a “working dog”, Boxers like to have a job, so agility or other dog sport is a great outlet for them. If you can find a class in herding, even better as that behavior is inherent in their genes.

Like other dogs with short snouts, be aware of the Boxer’s brachycephalic issues and monitor their exercise to prevent any problems with breathing or overheating.

Native foods for the Boxer:
Wild boar

Good foods to feed your Boxer:

Taste of the Wild™, Southwest Canyon Canine Formula with Wild Boar
Nutram™, Total T23 Grain Free Turkey, Chicken & Duck
Horizon™, Legacy Adult

Fun facts about the Boxer:

  • There are several stories on where the name Boxer originated. Our favorite is that it refers to the way the breed spars, like a prizefighter, with their front paws when playing or defending themselves.
  • Boxer’s are champion snorers.
  • Brandy, owned by John Scheid of St. Clair Shores, Mich., holds the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest tongue measuring in at 17-inches long!
  • 143-4-boxer




Getting to Know Your Siamese Cat

Today in our Getting to Know Your Breed series, we are featuring the Siamese Cat. The Siamese is high on the list of favorite cats per Cat Fancier’s Association and many of us are familiar with the Siamese from the Lady and the Tramp movies.

Life expectancy: Siamese cats have a good life expectancy and can live up to 11-15 years.

Size: The Siamese is a thin, elegant cat typically weighing between 8-12 pounds with a long neck and long legs.

Color: They are short-coated and have specific colorings dependent upon which Cat Association’s guidelines you follow. Coloring can range from a pale fawn color with deep chocolate brown markings to white with frosty pink or rosy colored markings. Markings are typically found on the face, ears, paws and tail.

Origins: The Siamese can be traced back to Siam, or Thailand and is one of the oldest Oriental/Asian breeds. They were known as the Royal Cat of Siam.

Personality: Siamese are talkative, nosey and likely to be quite bossy. They love their people and like a dog, will follow you around, supervising your every move, and likely providing their opinion as you go. They are quite intelligent and curious and will find things to entertain themselves if not properly stimulated. They are good with children and loving and affectionate with their families. You need to spend a lot of time with a Siamese or they will loudly make you aware of their displeasure.

Health Issues:
The Siamese’s wedge-shaped head may make them more prone to respiratory or breathing issues and dental issues if not cared for properly. They were once thought to be frail and delicate but tend to be much more robust through good breeding programs.

Siamese cats are prone to central nervous system diseases and may succumb to the feline obsessive-compulsive disorder called psychogenic alopecia, which causes them to groom themselves so excessively that it causes hair loss. This is thought to be stress related, so keeping your Siamese active and well-loved and in a predictable environment will help alleviate the condition.

Fitness/energy level: Siamese are agile and athletic. They can be taught to walk on lead which is good for overall health and to provide some intellectual stimulus. Providing them with stimulating toys and acceptable climbing trees will keep them in shape and content.

Grooming: Siamese are short-haired, so grooming is easy. Once a week combing or brushing, the occasional nail trim and regular teeth brushing is about all they need.

Native foods for the Siamese:
Native proteins found in Siam (Thailand) would include loach (fish), water buffalo, dolphin, deer, weasel, and ferret. Fruits and vegetables native to Thailand include mangos, pomegranates, bananas, rice, corn, peas, radishes.

Good foods to feed your Siamese:
Feline Natural, Chicken & Venison
Fussie Cat, Market Fresh Salmon
Holistic Select, Anchovy & Sardine and Salmon

Fun facts about the Siamese:

  • A diplomat at the consulate in Bangkok gave President Rutherford B. Hayes’s wife Lucy a Siamese cat named Siam in the late 1870s. It was the only Siamese to make an appearance in the White House.
  • The Siamese markings are a result of a temperature sensitive enzyme in their body. The darker ‘points’ develop on the cooler parts of their body and the warmer torso stays pale. Siamese kittens are born all white (or cream) and only develop these markings after a few weeks.
  • We mentioned the Siamese star turn in Lady and the Tramp, but a Siamese also played major parts in The Incredible Journey (1963) and That Darn Cat (1965).







Healthy Ingredients for Your Pet: Green Tea

139-1-green_teaThe next ingredient we’re covering in our ongoing series on Healthy Ingredients for Your Pet is Green Tea.

What is Green Tea?
Green Tea originates from the plant species, Camellia sinensis. This is the same species that black tea comes from and it’s only the variety of tea plant and method of processing that distinguishes the two. Green tea is considered to have originated in China. China’s Yunnan province is considered to be the original home of the Camellia sinensis plant species.

Why would Green Tea be in pet food?
Green tea’s benefits are plentiful. It is an excellent source of antioxidants and alkaloids. It also contains plenty of vitamins including vitamins A, D, E, C, B, B5, H and K, manganese and other minerals such as zinc, chromium and selenium. Green tea is about 30 percent polyphenols by weight, including large amounts of a catechin called EGCG. Catechins are natural antioxidants that help prevent cell damage and provide other health benefits.

In humans, green tea is thought to:

  • Be an anti-cancer agent, and to lower blood cholesterol. Cancer tumors of the stomach, gall bladderbalder, lung & intestine are thought to be inhibited by green tea.
  • Improves brain function
  • Increases metabolism and fat burning
  • Improves dental health
  • Improves longevity

Looking at all these benefits, it makes sense you would want your pet to benefit from a little cup of tea.

Are there any risks to feeding your pet Green Tea?
Green tea does contain caffeine and may interrupt your pet’s sleep or make them jumpy or overactive – just as too much caffeine does in humans. It’s not a supplement to put in their water bowl, but there are many dog foods that contain green tea and the amounts provided through these meals would be conservative and acceptable.

Green Tea Factoids:

  • One popular legend suggests that Shennong, Emperor of China and supposed inventor of Chinese medicine, discovered tea as a beverage around 2737 BC when fresh tea leaves from a nearby tea tree fell into his cup of just boiled water.
  • Green tea is essentially the same thing as the trendy ‘matcha’ tea. Like black tea, matcha is in the same family and just undergoes a different farming process. It’s typically consumed as a powder rather than in leaf form which makes it more concentrated and higher in caffeine.
  • It’s rumored that tea might help prevent fleas, so you can sprinkle some green tea leaves around your pet’s bedding.
  • A sampling of pet foods that contain Green Tea:
    Wellness™ Complete Health Grain Free Small Breed Deboned Turkey, Chicken & Salmon
    Artemis™ Fresh Mix Feline Formula
    By Nature™ Turkey, Chicken & Sweet Potato Recipe





Helpful Tips for Pets with Arthritis

138-1-arthritisWhat is arthritis?
Arthritis is not solely a human disease. Both dogs and cats can suffer from arthritis. Arthritis or degenerative joint disease is generally defined as “inflammation of the joints”. There are several different types and causes of arthritis and it has become to be used as kind of a catch-all phrases to signify painful joints.

What causes arthritis in my pet?

Many different factors may allow arthritis to develop in your pet:

  • Trauma to the joint through prior injuries, breaks or sprains to the bone or ligaments
  • Developmental conditions such as elbow or hip dysplasia
  • Congenital disorders such as luxated patella
  • Obesity
  • Cancer
  • Inflammatory joint disease such as Lyme disease

What can be done to relieve the pain of arthritis?
There are many prescription and over-the-counter medications for dogs and cats that can help alleviate the pain of arthritis. If you think your pet is showing signs of arthritis, you should discuss a treatment plan with your veterinarian.

You can also help address the chronic inflammation that is the root cause of arthritis in their diet in several ways:

  1. Reducing inflammatory foods (processed foods, grains, wheat, sugars) and replacing them with whole foods.
  2. Add Omega-3 oils which have been found to help balance the fats in your pet’s diet and reduce inflammation
  3. Add foods high in anti-oxidants such as blueberries, goji berries and turmeric that can help prevent cell damage.
  4. Exercise!

How does exercise help arthritis?
While arthritis affects senior pets most often, it can strike younger pets, so it’s important to keep to a regular exercise routine from the start. Exercise helps keep the muscles, tendons and ligaments around your pet’s joints healthy and strong. Exercise also promotes a normal range of motion, helping to prevent stiffness in the joint. It stimulates the production of high-quality joint fluid to lubricate the joint and keep the cartilage healthy, but most importantly, exercise helps keep your pet slim and fight off obesity. That extra weight puts added stress on the inflamed joints, making it even more painful. Lastly, exercise can induce the body to release “feel good hormones” like endocannabinoids (endorphins) that can help with pain.

What exercises are safe for arthritic pets?
Any low-impact exercise that helps strengthen the muscles is beneficial. Just like humans, walking is probably the best overall exercise, but you can mix in swimming, walking up and down stairs or slow jogging. The exercise should be geared to your pet’s physical condition, don’t start out to fast and injure them.

Try to put a little added focus on the weak spots. For instance, if your dog has arthritis in the rear hips, try to do some exercises to strengthen those joints such as hill work or squats (yes dogs can do squats by walking under a low fence). Water treadmill therapy can also be beneficial in strengthening a weaker joint as it allows them to exercise but alleviates some of the joint stress.

Most importantly, the exercise program you design for your pet must be consistent in order for them to reap the full benefits. That means every day, not just weekends.

As with any exercise program, double check with your pet’s veterinarian before you start.