Pet Exercise: Dr Jeff, Does My Pet Need to Exercise? 8 Exercises for Your Dog and Cat
Is pet exercise really important? Like people, animals need regular exercise to maintain their health. That doesn’t mean you need to take your dog to the gym and teach him to dead lift - it means they shouldn’t be sitting around on the couch all day, just like you shouldn’t be.  Do you exercise routinely, and want to induct your pet to your practice? Bring them to a vet first to evaluate the level and duration of exercise they can handle. Additionally, it’s important to learn from the vet how to scale their exercising to match your routine, so as not to overwork them.  If you do not yet exercise consistently but you want to make sure your pet gets their daily workout in, continue reading for great, low intensity exercising options for your dog or cat that are perfect for starting them out on, and building on slowly.   

Mostly for Dogs

  1. Ball - Seeming to be the most obvious one, the 50% overweight dogs in this country would argue it’s not so obvious.  If getting out of the house or exercising has been a point of avoidance for you and your pet, make a point to just go in the front yard, or just to a local dog park and throw the ball around. It’ll require minimal movement for you, while still allowing you to benefit from the outdoors excursion, and it’s great fun and exercise for your pet.

 2. Swimming - Especially effective for mammals suffering from arthritis, swimming works out every part of your body and feels good doing it. Especially if you’re living in SoCal this time of year, swimming is a great way to cool down your furry family while giving them exercise and letting them have fun too. 

3. Hiking - Hiking is really just walking… uphill usually, and over rocks, but walking nonetheless, and guess what? Your dog is quite good at walking and would greatly enjoy being in the outdoors with their favorite human / humans. Hiking improves human and pet health physically and emotionally. It also provides perfect ground for deep bonding. The best part of it? It doesn't feel like exercise!

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4. Dancing - Did you know it’s a blast to dance with your dog? Excited by the mere presence of joy, dogs make the best dance partners - if you’re not a stickler for routine! Perfect for home or yard exercise, it’s as easy as turning on some upbeat music and moving your body to the sounds. No critics here, just a good time, and a strong aerobic workout for you and your dog. 

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{Mostly} For Cats

5. Tower - If you’re a cat person, you don’t need to be told how much more independent cats are than dogs, and how much they enjoy their own company. Still, they should remain as active as a cat could, and a tower for them to climb and claw on is the perfect remedy for all their needs combined. Bonus points if you get one with a little space in the middle for them to curl up and be cozy. 

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6. Laser Tag - No, not at the mall, right from your couch. Get a laser pointer on Amazon for $2 for endless cat entertainment, right from your seat. The best part is your cat will be getting great exercise and improving their health, while having fun! Pointing the little red dot constantly out of reach is a great way to get your feline up and moving.

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7. Treadmill? Dare we offer such advice? Cats on treadmills could be a good idea, if they need the walking desperately, but they must be supervised. They can easily sink their claws into the wrong section and get stuck, or get scared of the movements and hurt themselves trying to escape or fight. However, if your cat is overweight, and it’s a house cat on top of it… do the supervising. They need the exercise. 

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8. Play Date! They may be a little more shy than dogs, but as soon as you get two cats together, you can be sure they’ll be chasing each other around and having a grand old time. Sites like and could be great resources for this option. 


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If you habitually exercise your pet, we’d love to see about it! Tag @drjeffwerber on Instagram or tag your photo / video with #drjeff so we can enjoy with you. 


Visit Dr. Jeff Werber’s Instagram account (@werbs_dvm) to view and submit questions and answers on weekly AMAs – or call and leave a voicemail at 424-835-0576. Your call will be returned posthaste. For emergencies, download Dr. Jeff Werber’s app Airvet, a video-chat option for veterinary needs at any time of day or night!