Why Routines Are Important For Your Pet’s Health

Pencil in playtime.


When your pets are in other rooms or roaming the backyard, they have their own adventures going on. However, for regularly scheduled events — like mealtime, playtime, or even your out-of-home schedule — they like to know when these things are going to happen.

Whether you keep your pet's daily plans simple or they have a schedule full of activities, their overall wellbeing will benefit from a planned routine. That’s why The Dodo partnered with Petco, whose approach to pet care focuses on the whole health of your pet, to share why routines are so important for our pets (plus a few tips on how you can incorporate structure into their lives).

They benefit your pet’s mental health

As your pet’s right paw human, it’s your responsibility to create a level of security in their day-to-day activities. Making sure that things like what time they go on walks to relieve themselves or when food is ready in their bowls happen at the same time every day reinforces that sense of stability. This consistency helps reduce pets’ stress and anxiety levels, reminding them that they are safe and their needs are being met.

If you find yourself struggling to keep a regular schedule for your pet, try building their schedule around your daily tasks so their needs aren't forgotten. For instance, it might be easier to walk your dog first thing in the morning, before your work day takes over, to get them in the routine of waking up and starting their day with you. Also, making time for play throughout the day is important for your pet. Whether you’re walking in the front door from work or closing your laptop for the day, giving your pet undivided attention and cuddles at certain cues adds a layer of trust in your relationship. When you're away or your attention is divided, give your pet a mental stimulation toy to keep their minds busy until you're free again.

They lead to a healthier lifestyle

Giving your pet consistency, particularly in their meal times, is a great way to put them on the path to healthy eating. When food is given around the same time daily rather than free-feeding — filling your pet's bowl and adding to it when it gets low — pets have a better chance of avoiding overeating and gaining weight. Setting a feeding routine (along with proper food proportions exercising) also gives them an idea of when their next meal will come. With designated meal times — and a few treats throughout the day — your pet will be less likely to beg or feel as though they’re going without food for too long.

It’s not only important to note what goes in your pets and when, but also what comes out. For cats, and other small animals that use a little box, a routine for cleaning the box will not only help your pet’s hygiene, but it’ll also assist you in detecting if something is wrong. When you clean your cat’s litter on a schedule — perhaps at the same time every day — you have a better chance at pinpointing when an abnormality may have begun. For both cats and dogs, pet parents can catch hints of serious health problems (including various diseases and even cancer) by looking at what they leave behind in the litter or when picking up poop in the yard. This could help your pet get the help they need much faster.

For all pet parents, periodic vet visits and a regular grooming schedule also help your pets live healthy lifestyles. It's recommended for pets older than one year to see a vet at least once a year, so it might be best to keep that annual check-up the same time every year to stay up-to-date on their vaccinations and preventatives. As for grooming, keeping your pets fur at a decent level and combing/brushing through it on a consistent schedule, will help you detect early signs of pests (like ticks) or any health issues, such as lumps or rashes.

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When creating a healthy routine for your pet, you’re going to need some supplies to make it happen. That’s why Petco is here to help you give your pets the lifestyle they deserve. From affordable toys, treats, and food to expert advice and proactive vet visits (members of the Vital Care program receive veterinary discounts!), Petco is the one-stop shop to visit, in-person or online, for all of your pet’s needs.

They help set your pet's expectations

We all like knowing what's expected of us, and our pets are no different. Routines help your pet understand what you're going to do for them at any given time and how they should respond in that moment. For instance, taking your dog out for a walk about 30 minutes after eating will get them in the habit of waiting to be walked rather than relieving themselves in the house. Similarly, by building routines around work time and play time, your pet will learn to understand when they're expected to entertain themselves, and when they can expect your undivided attention (making them less likely to act out in between).

Even though pets thrive on routines, not every day goes exactly as planned and your pet isn't watching the clock. If you do need to switch things up, try to keep major changes to a minimum and don't make any sudden shifts in a short period of time as this can make your pet anxious and break down trust between you two. Being able to pivot sometimes will show your pet that you can still meet their basic needs, which keeps them from stressing out so they learn to be flexible, too.