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How to keep your pet active despite the rains

If it’s raining, move the games inside to keep your pet physically and mentally agile

Get your pets interactive toys so that they are cognitively occupied.
Get your pets interactive toys so that they are cognitively occupied. (iStockphoto )

As the owner of a Golden Retriever, I am aware of how challenging it may be to walk them during the monsoon. Muddy paws and wet coats that can lead to skin infections can deter many pet parents from sticking to their walking routine. Finding dry areas to exercise your dog outside is difficult, and I find that pet owners frequently fail to give their pets enough exercise during this time of the year.

Regardless of the weather, regular exercise is essential for the physical and mental health of the pet. During the monsoon, pets can become restless, bored, and even anxious due to the lack of stimulation. Every year, I encounter pets that put on a couple of pounds at the end of the monsoon simply because they do not get to go out as much during the rains. Exercise not only helps maintain a healthy weight but also supports joint health, promotes cardiovascular fitness, and reduces behavioural issues caused by pent-up energy.

Your pet can benefit from indoor activities and games if and when the weather does not cooperate. Play hide-and-seek with them. While you hide in another room, have someone keep your pet occupied with treats or toys. Call your pet after that, and watch them enjoy trying to find you. Getting interactive toys that dispense treats is another way to keep your pet cognitively occupied. These toys help keep your pet mentally active and stimulated. You can make your own versions of these by using cardboard containers or boxes and concealing kibble inside and give your dog the challenge of retrieving the goodies. It’s a fantastic way to keep them busy. Hide toys or snacks around the house or in a sniffing mat and encourage them to search for the items to engage their sense of smell. This cerebral workout will keep their minds occupied and exhaust them.

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You can also create a mini-obstacle course using common household materials like cushions, cardboard boxes, and tunnels to make sure they get their required dose of physical activity. Use rewards like treats to help your pet navigate the course. This is excellent for developing agility. Cats, who spend the majority of their time indoors, enjoy a nice obstacle course. Make a fishing game by using a stick with a string and a toy fastened to the end. This will satiate cats’ natural urges to stalk and chase.

Using a durable rope toy, you can play a gentle game of tug of war with your dog. It’s a great way to burn energy and strengthen your bond with them. But play the game with caution to avoid injuring or straining their neck, especially if you have a beagle. You can use your home treadmill for exercise during the monsoon if your dog feels at ease using it. Start at a slow pace and gradually increase it. Playing fetch or using the stairs in your home to have your pet run up and down are also great ways to get in some exercise.

Rainy weather can also interfere with your dog’s socialisation schedule. Plan indoor playdates with your friends or relatives who have pets. This will keep them active.

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To prevent any accidents, ensure that your pets are always supervised. Get good-quality toys, especially rope toys. In the event that they are chewed or swallowed, surgery may be required. While using treats to encourage them to learn indoor activities, do it in moderation and stay within their daily calorie intake, or that may lead to weight gain. If your pet is unattended on the treadmill, accidents can occur. Clear the space where you will be playing with your pet of any breakable objects or potential hazards like electrical cords. Adjust the intensity of activity to your pet’s age, breed, and health. Senior pets or those with health problems should refrain from excessive exercise.

Keep in mind that a pet that gets plenty of exercise and mental stimulation will be happier and healthier. So, make the most of days that you are stuck indoors.

Nameeta Nadkarni is a practising veterinary soft tissue surgeon and pet blogger from Mumbai. The Wizard of Paws is her fortnightly petcare column. 

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