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Minnesota Veterinary Hospital Blog

Importance of Mental Stimulation in Your Pets

2018-06-23

Think of how dull your life would be if you didn’t have regular mental stimulation. Even if you don’t find your job particularly challenging on an intellectual level, you have plenty of other outlets to help meet this basic human need. Did you know that dogs and cats need mental stimulation as well? While the requirement might not be at the same level as our own, companion animals also have the need to use their brains.

When owners don’t strive to meet this need, pets can become bored, depressed, or destructive. Unfortunately, people sometimes give up on their pets when they consistently display problem behavior without realizing that boredom is the likely cause of it. Some of the most common types of behavior problems exhibited by bored pets include eliminating in the house, biting, chewing, scratching, and excessive vocalizations. 
 

Brain Exercises for Dogs

Dogs are happiest when they receive both physical exercise and social interaction every day. At Minnesota Veterinary Hospital, we recommend aiming for at least 15 minutes of daily exercise with your dog. This is good for you as well since it releases serotonin in the brain that contributes to a sense of well-being. Feel free to break things up from the usual walk by including your dog in hiking, swimming, playing a game of fetch, or running alongside your bicycle. 

It’s also a good idea to let your dog meet other dogs regularly. Dog parks are great for this, as is doggy daycare or boarding at our clinic. Dogs love other people as well. The more people your dog can interact with daily, the better.

Toys such as food puzzles or hiding a treat somewhere in your home get your dog thinking. Dogs love treats and will do just about anything to get one, including solving multi-step problems. We offer several dog toys for mental stimulation in our online store.
 

Brain Exercises for Cats

Since cats are not as social as dogs, they have less opportunity for interaction with other people and animals as well playing games. Although some people wrongly believe that cats are aloof and only care about themselves, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Cats love to interact with their human family members just as much as dogs do. 

Be sure to set aside at least 15 minutes a day just to play with your cat and give her your undivided attention. A cat’s needs are simple, so all you need to do is dangle a piece of string or shine a laser pointer at a wall. You can also buy your cat toys that she can play with alone such as catnip or automated wheels. For cats as well as dogs, be sure to change the stock of toys often so they don’t become predictable and boring.

We also carry several toys for cats in our online store that promote mental stimulation. Some of these include the egg-cercizer treat dispenser, doorway dangli, and the cat fishbowl toy. 

Please don’t hesitate to contact us at 651-484-3331 with additional questions about keeping your pet’s brain sharp or feel free to bring it up at your dog or cat’s next check-up.


Photo Credit: YakobchukOlena / iStock / Getty Images Plus