Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Mees. Mees Wonders, “How do pets exercise” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Mees!

As the dog days of summer approach, you may notice dogs and cats enjoying a peaceful snooze in the warm rays of the Sun. Since pets don’t have jobs or school to go to, they have a lot of free time to spend lounging about.

Of course, pets don’t really have hobbies, either. With all that free time, you’d think they might take up knitting or woodworking or even working out. If you’ve ever been to a gym, though, you know you won’t see dogs or cats pumping iron or running on the treadmill.

That would be a funny sight, though, wouldn’t it? Can you imagine walking into a gym and seeing dogs lifting weights or cats jogging? We’re being a bit silly thinking of dogs and cats going to the gym, but we do have a reason. Even though dogs and cats don’t go to the gym, they DO need regular exercise to stay healthy.

Just like human beings, pets that don’t get enough exercise can face health problems. They may become obese and struggle with issues like diabetes, heart disease, and respiratory problems. If you have a pet, part of being a good owner is making sure that your pet gets the right amount and kind of exercise.

Besides the health benefits, there are even more reasons pets need exercise. It helps them burn energy, which makes it easier for them (and you!) to get a good night’s rest. Exercise can also stimulate a pet’s brain. That’s why many animals love playing games, like chasing a ball. Games are exercise for both their bodies and brains.

Before you start your pet on an exercise program, be sure to talk with your veterinarian. Schedule a check-up for your pet and ask your veterinarian how much and what type of exercise your pet needs.

Just like humans, pets likely will need to start out slowly. Over time, they will get fit and be able to exercise for longer periods of time. You might start by playing with your pet for 15-20 minutes at a time. Gradually, you can turn those play sessions into several 30-minute walks or jogs each week. If your pet is especially active, you can extend those sessions to an hour or longer.

Of course, some pets, such as cats, may not be easy to take for a walk or a run. These pets still need exercise, though. Don’t underestimate the value of vigorous indoor play, such as games of chase, for these types of pets.

As you exercise with your pet, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure your pet has plenty of water before, during, and after exercising. Just like you, they need to stay hydrated.

  • If you have older pets, don’t push them as hard. Just like humans, older pets can’t always exercise as vigorously as younger ones.

  • Watch the heat! If you are outside, exercising with your pet will be best early in the morning or later in the day. Most pets have plenty of fur that keeps them warm. In the heat of the day, exercise can put a strain on them since they usually can’t eliminate excess heat as easily as humans can.

If you exercise alongside your pet, you’ll benefit, too. A 2017 study found that dog owners walk for about 22 minutes longer each day than non-dog owners do. Exercising can help both you and your pet stay healthy!

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.W.9, CCRA.W.10, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2

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