Perk up your pet’s brain

Stimulate your animal’s mind to ward off bad behavior and weight gain.

Dogs:

Work your pup. Let your pet use its innate skills. For example, if you have a retriever, play fetch with it.

Go outside. Outdoors, dogs track scents and hear new sounds. Their brains get a boost processing all of this.

Energize mealtimes. Instead of serving food in one bowl, hide small containers all around the house for your dog to find.

Cats:

Engage your feline. Use interactive toys, like Kitty Flicks, which spring up to 15 feet into the air ($6 for 10; catclaws.com).

Excite an indoor kitty. Clear off a windowsill so your cat can get a good view of the action outside.

Use your TV. Catdvd.com and kittyshow.com sell DVDs that show footage of birds and fish. These images will entice your cat to simulate hunting.

Source: Marty Becker, DVM, veterinarian at the North Idaho Animal Hospital and coauthor of the syndicated newspaper column “Pet Connection” (petconnection.com).