Did you know that they make miniature treadmills, just for dogs? Oh yeah!  There are pet kiddie pools, exercise pens, weighted vests, pet balance balls and so much more. From flotation jackets for swimming exercises to traditional toys given a fitness twist, there are plenty of products out there designed to help your pet get and stay in shape. The  first question to ask is do you really need equipment for your pet? If you’re very active in the winter, and neither you nor your pet minds the cold, it’s not likely that your pet needs anything special to stay fit. The same goes if your pet is more of an indoor creature, but still seems to get in lots of running around the house and your vet considers your pet to be in an acceptable weight and fitness range. But if your pet is overweight, doesn’t like to get out for walks in the cold or has physical conditions that prevent him from getting the play time he needs to stay healthy, it may be time to invest in some fitness equipment designed to help your pet get in his exercise. Some pets don’t require anything too special. Toys designed for your pet’s species will often coax her to play. For the most part, encouraging a pet to do what she does naturally is the easiest way to maintain fitness. For already fit pets, agility training equipment can be a fun addition to the home, giving both pet and owner a new hobby. Hoops, ramps, tunnels and other obstacles can be a fun distraction. Pets with health or fitness setbacks may need something a little off the beaten path to help them get fit and fabulous. Figuring out the best method of exercise for your pet is the first step. Your veterinarian will likely have some suggestions for where to begin. Consider your pet’s unique physical needs. For instance, if your pet has ailing joints, your veterinarian may recommend a low-impact method, such as swimming or walks on flat, soft surfaces. A very overweight pet or a pet that’s never had much exercise may require a gentle workout at first. On the other hand, a pet with a new ailment that’s used to being active may require something to help her relax while she heals. Each pet is different, so it’s important to bear in mind your pet, her health history and her preferences when you do your pet fitness shopping. Do a little research to uncover some fitness products that will help your pet. Work with your veterinarian to ensure that any purchase you make will be beneficial and safe. Don’t take the product description’s word for it, either! Research customer reviews, ask your vet, search for articles related to the product’s safety, discuss it with a pet store employee and ask friends for their feedback. And remember, just because a product has your pet on the box doesn’t mean it’s the right product for your pet. When you make your purchase, don’t be surprised to discover that he’s just not sure what to make of it. Don’t get discouraged! Pets often don’t “get” the intended purpose of stuff humans make. Let your pet get familiar with it and explore it in his own way. Make the product as exciting as possible, but don’t punish your pet if he doesn’t want to use it. You don’t want your pet to have negative associations with it. Work your pet into a workout routine and before long, he’ll be excited to play.
Posted on 2013-01-01 by Amanda Harper