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Pet Health Tip: Environmental Enrichment for Dogs and Cats

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Dogs and cats get bored just like we do, and they have far less freedom to seek out entertainment. Or worse, their “entertainment” may be the destruction of your shoes, carpet, or furniture!

All pets can benefit from environmental enrichment, meaning opportunities for amusement and play in their own homes that also stimulate their senses and feed their natural instincts. That includes senior pets who may not be as physically active, but can still enjoy games or puzzles, and younger pets who could use ways to fill the time as pet parents go back to work and school.

Use your nose: How does a pet go on a scavenger hunt? With their nose! Hiding treats around the house can provide amusement for pets who are left alone or want to play.

Variety is the spice of life: Supply your pet with toys of different textures and types. Rotate them (hide some for a while then bring them out and pack up others) so the selection stays fresh, or invest in a monthly subscription service that delivers new toys and treats for pets to enjoy.

Feed differently: Does your pet tend to inhale his meals? Puzzle balls, maze bowls, and special feeding mats can stretch out meals and make them not only physically satisfying but mentally stimulating as well.

Pet-parent approved play: Cats and dogs need to satisfy certain instinctual urges to chew, scratch, and stretch. Make sure you’re providing safe and appropriate toys and surfaces like scratch pads and cat trees for your pet’s needs.

One note: Remember that treats can help pets get active and find fun, but you also don’t want to overdo it. Experiment with using small pieces of healthy, low-calorie fruits and veggies in your enrichment activities, including blueberries, apples, watermelon, bananas, and even peas and carrots. Canned pumpkin can replace peanut butter in stuffed treats, as well.

If you have any questions or would like to talk about developing an enrichment plan for your own pet, call us at (844) 937-4424.

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