Since the dawn of humanity, people and animals found ways to collaborate and improve each other’s lives. While in the past, humans kept animals out of a more practical rationale – to carry materials, safeguard livestock, and so on and so forth – nowadays, we do not need animals to do those tasks. We have slowly made the transition from using animals almost exclusively for daily work tasks to keeping them solely as companions.

Scientists have proven that owning pets, whether cats, dogs, turtles, hamsters or guinea pigs, is beneficial not only to the owner’s physical and mental health but also to the animal’s. One of the best ways to yield the results of these benefits is by engaging in frequent playtime with the pets. This can be done either by doing activities together or by providing the pets with toys specially designed to accommodate the needs of the animal. Luckily, there are many options on the market and you can read online pet toy reviews before purchasing in order to make the right call for your pet’s needs and ways of play.

Physical Activity

Pets, even in the case of those that are lazy and sedentary by nature, need constant physical activity to prevent various associated diseases from occurring. Obesity, especially in the case of dogs, can expose the animals to the risk of developing diabetes. In addition, the excess weight will put tremendous pressure on the joints of the animal.

This, in turn, will decrease its mobility and will to be physically active, which will lead the animal to gain even more weight, thus triggering a vicious cycle that can only be broken by medical treatments. While domestic cats (especially if they are neutered) are not as affected by obesity like dogs, they still need occasional physical activity to fight off any potential health complications.

As a result, owners should buy toys that the pet will find visually interesting (more on this subject later), and encourage it to stay active. A great way to maintain dogs active and help them get rid of all excess energy is by getting a tether tug.  This outdoor instrument is a sort of contraption made out of a flexible fiberglass pole, with a rope that has a toy attached at the end of it. Your dogs will go crazy playing tug-of-war with the toy because the pole bends and turns in tandem with the dog’s movements.

Cats are stimulated by almost any surrounding elements, so maintaining them physically active is not that hard. This can be achieved simply by using a laser toy (whose points the cat will dutifully follow everywhere), or pet teasing toy – basically, any battery operated toy that looks like another animal.

Sensory Enrichment

Since animals are incapable of abstract thought, their world revolves around stimulating their five basic senses: tactile (touch), sight (visual), hearing (auditory), olfactory (smell) and taste. These five senses are what allows them to survive in the wild and adapt to the ever-changing natural landscape. Obviously, in a domestic setting, pets have little, if no use for these senses, because the owners shelter them from the dangers that these senses protected them against in the first place by providing food and safe living conditions.

But even after hundreds of years of selective breeding, their instincts, as well as the need to constantly stimulate and improve these senses in an adequate environment, still run strong. Even if they are perfectly happy in domestic settings, pets have been hardwired by thousands of years of evolution to seek activities that fulfill these needs.

Therefore, like in the case of physical activity, owners should strive to get the toys that provide the pets with sensory enrichment. As most of us know, cats are natural hunters – they love to chew, scratch, pounce and run. One easy way to appease these hunting instincts is by getting, squeaky, catnip scented toys that look similar to the cat’s natural prey – birds, rabbits, and so on and so forth. For cats, it is also a good idea to find multipurpose toys that allow it to scratch, climb, and chase objects.

As for dogs and guinea pigs, they tend to get stressed and bored much quicker than cats.  Apart from providing them with a stimulating medium filled with diverse sounds (one easy way to achieve to achieve this is by turning on the TV) and visual objects (mirrors), a great thing you can do is to pick toys that you can fill with treats. The toy can be simply a ball or any type of easily chewable container that can hold treats. This will not only help the animal develop a mental link between good behavior and reward, but will also instill a sense of novelty.

Conclusion

The importance of mental and physical activity, as well as sensory enrichment activities for pets, can’t be stressed enough. Even though they have been selectively bred to gradually shed some of their natural behaviors away, their instincts still run strong, and it is our duty as owners to ensure a medium in which the pets can appease them. One of the best ways to do this is by providing them with toys that simulate the activities that they engaged in back when they were still not domesticated. By doing this, you will not only keep the pet happy but also cut down the risk of developing any illnesses caused by physical inactivity.

 

Facebook Conversations