Inactivity in pets is a huge problem in the UAE, given their owners’ busy work schedule and sedentary lifestyle, says Dr Kathleen Leguin, Practice Manager and Veterinary Surgeon at Pets Health Veterinary Clinic. This is exacerbated by the harsh summers in the country that make outdoor activities difficult.
“Being overweight is the biggest issue facing pets in the UAE, which is a result of inactivity,” she says. “This will lead to many other problems such as diabetes, osteoarthritis, heart disease and high blood pressure, respiratory issues especially in brachycephalic breeds, decreased liver function, increased surgical and anaesthesia risk, decreased stamina and slowing down of metabolism, making it even more difficult for the pet to lose weight.”
You may be surprised to learn that cats are more affected by inactivity than dogs due to their already laid-back lifestyle. Among dogs, inactivity has a greater impact on small breeds such as Pomeranian, Chihuahuas and Yorkshire, seen by many as apartment dogs. Neutered pets also need close monitoring as becoming overweight is one of the adverse effects of neutering.
Top tips to keep your pet active
Dogs need anywhere between 30 minutes and two hours of exercise a day depending on the breed. From playing football, Frisbee or fetch to a simple walk, pick an activity that you enjoy doing. “Set a common goal with your pet, whether it is to reach 30 minutes of activity a day or be able to hike for a full day,” says Dr Leguin. If it’s too warm outside, leave your dog at a day-care facility so that it can play with other four-legged friends and stay active. And if you are busy, hire a pet-sitter to walk your pet.
Cats require only ten minutes of activity twice a day, says Dr Leguin. But it’s trickier to get them moving as they are more independent. Hide food in different places to force your cat to move around. Use a variety of food-dispensing cat toys so that it puts in extra effort. Try yoga and your cat will soon join you on the mat to see what is happening, says Dr Leguin, and either stretch with you or just claw the mat. “Remember, cats don’t need that much activity, so just a few minutes of yoga with you can be enough.”