How can we make sure our pets are happy without traditional sources of entertainment like backyards?
As apartment living continues to gain popularity, pets of all shapes and sizes are also becoming apartment dwellers. But what does this mean for them and their care?
Whatever our life situations, we must consider the basic needs of our pets to ensure their comfort and happiness on a daily basis.
It is important to consider these needs based on your own lifestyle and living spaces.
All pets, from goldfish to dogs, need these 5 things in addition to basic requirements like good nutrition and fresh, clean water for a healthy life.
1. Physical exercise
We know the health benefits of exercise for ourselves, and the same goes for our pets. The amount and intensity of physical exercise depends a lot on your pet.
Young, active dogs will have higher exercise needs than older, less active dogs, but that doesn’t mean your older dog won’t enjoy a daily walk or sniffing time at the local park.
However, walking dogs for hours is not always the best way to exercise them. Play is also an important way for many pets to burn energy and for you to have fun with your pet.
If you lead an active lifestyle, contact a trusted dog walker or pet sitter to help provide your pets with exercise and companionship. Doggy day care can also be an option for puppies who like to socialize.
2. Mental enrichment and stimulation
While exercise and play can meet the physical needs, meeting the mental stimulation needs of our pets can be just as important. These can be incorporated into physical activities, but there are other ways to make the apartment more interesting for our pets.
For the wild ancestors of our cats and our dogs, hunters and scavengers, the meal would have been an extremely stimulating activity. The simple act of placing a bowl in front of them every day robs them (and robs you) of an opportunity to have a fulfilling and fulfilling experience.
Here are some ways to improve your dogs ‘and cats’ meal times:
- Scatter pet food on and around different toys, grassy areas, on cat scratchers, and inside pet-safe items so pets can investigate and search for their meals.
- Slow feeders, treat balls, and puzzle feeders can be purchased for cats and dogs to help make meals much more rewarding and stimulating for our pets.
- Training – by using their regular meals as time to do short training intervals, meal times also become not only rewarding but also educational for your pet.
Other ways to make the environment more rewarding outside of meals:
- Lots of toys, rotated regularly so that they don’t get boring.
- Fresh grass for eating, sitting or using as a toilet depending on the animal. For cats, adding fresh or dried catnip can also help, although not all cats respond to catnip.
- Provide different sizes and locations of beds, pet tents, etc. For cats, be sure to think vertically and horizontally. Shelves, scratching posts, or other items marketed to use walls and doors can be perfect for small spaces and allow cats to take advantage of their natural instinct to climb. Also, don’t underestimate the cardboard boxes cats can hide in!
3. Rest and sleep
Just like us, getting poor quality sleep or not getting enough sleep and rest can make pets anxious, stressed and miserable.
Providing many different options and locations for pets to sleep is often overlooked when it comes to our pets.
Having a choice not only helps mentally, but also means that animals may have options for getting away from particularly noisy, sunny, or cold parts of the apartment.
4. Social interaction and affection
Understanding our pets as individuals can help us understand the degree of social interaction and affection they require.
We may think that we are doing a great job taking our dog to the dog park every day for example; However, some dogs can feel much happier at home. They may prefer to play one-on-one with you, finding the hustle and bustle of the dog park stressful.
Likewise with cats, we can impose on them an affection that we do not want or that we do not give them enough! For particularly sociable pets, having the company of another pet can be a great option, but before you engage with 2 pets, you need to be sure that it will be a positive experience and not just a ‘ double problem ”!
5. Breed specific requirements
Be aware that some breeds may have specific needs when it comes to rewarding activities. For some dogs, this can include retrieving, herding, or swimming. It is important to find creative ways to give them an outlet to execute their instinctive behavior to ensure their happiness.
As our lifestyles change and we and our pets increasingly live in apartments, taking the time to understand our pets’ basic needs and adapt accordingly can be the difference between a happy and unhappy household.
If you’re concerned about your apartment pet, contact your veterinarian or a qualified reward-based dog trainer to help with your pets.
Dr Dani Hoolahan is PetSure Chief Veterinarian, working closely with the veterinary profession and industry to increase awareness of pet insurance in Australia. She graduated from Murdoch University with honors and graduated from the American College of Veterinary Dermatology, is the founder of the Veterinary Dermatology Clinic and is the proud parent of Spike, Daisy and Oliver (a trio of Labradors) , Ghost (a Lykoi kitten) and Hobbes (a domestic shorthair cat).
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article (which may be subject to change without notice) are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Finder and its employees. The information in this article is not intended to be and does not constitute financial advice, investment advice, trading advice or any other advice or recommendation of any kind. Neither the author nor the Finder took your personal situation into account. You should seek professional advice before making any further decisions based on this information.
Images: Getty Images, provided (Dani Hoolahan)