Dealing with Pet Diabetes – the Exercise Connection

UPDATED: Nov 14, 2013

A few days ago, I wrote about Cali’s health challenges as a result of feline diabetes and kidney disease. I touched on the importance of feline enrichment to keep cats both mentally and physically in shape. Our good friend, Dr. Rod Van Horn, also shared some great insights about making sure pets are living healthy lives. Here are some additional tips to help make that happen.

Among other issues, diabetes brings on a weakness in the back legs, which means that not only does an obese cat have difficulty walking because of the excess pounds, but the problem is exacerbated by the fact that their legs are weak and thus they struggle even more to move.

  • The simplest way to get a cat to exercise is to carry her to the furthest point in the house from the food bowl. You are guaranteed she will get there! And, if you do that several times a day, you can in fact call it an exercise routine!
  • The other easy way to introduce exercise is with fun and games – chasing a laser beam or playing with a wand toy are great forms of exercise. If you do short bouts several times a day, you are helping to burn calories and get muscles moving.
  • These days there are a variety of wonderful treadmills for dogs. These are great when the weather is bad preventing regularly outdoor exercise. They are also excellent for elderly dog owners who, themselves, have difficulty walking great distances.

Lately,  pet treadmills are also being used to help slim down obese dogs, like Rocky, a really overweight Dachshund who has slimmed down drastically since he has been using the Dogpacer treadmill. Rocky’s former owner was feeding him hamburgers and the poor dog simply couldn’t move. He has slimmed down drastically. He is now in the care of a pet shelter who, in addition to helping him regain his health, is also looking for his forever family.

Of course, cats won’t use a treadmill. But there is a specially designed exercise wheels for felines, which I first saw at a cat show. It looks a bit like a Ferris wheel and I guess if you can purr-suade a feline to give it a try, it would be a great way of also increasing daily exercise.

Recently, I was speaking to a veterinarian and we were discussing some of the medical issues that our pets face today like diabetes and obesity. Many of these diseases we have foisted on our furkids through lack of exercise and general enrichment and a bad diet. It’s time to break the habit and give them back their health!


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