Many of us know that we should make a more concentrated effort to stay fit. We should eat better and exercise more. What is not as well known is that many of our dogs need our help to do exactly the same thing.
Over 50% of the dogs seen in veterinary hospitals and clinics around the country are considered either overweight or obese. Worse yet, many pet owners don’t see their pets as having a weight issue. Some of the dog owners who do recognize that their pooch is portly simply think it’s “cute”. Unfortunately, being overweight is not healthy for pets or people.
For those of us who are carrying a bit of extra weight, exercising and eating right becomes important to return to a fit state. However, even those people and pets that do not need to shed pounds still need to exercise and eat right to stay fit. What better way to get fit and stay fit than to do so along with your dog?
Staying Fit with Exercise
Exercising with your dog serves many different functions. It’s not just about burning calories, although that is a major benefit. Exercise also works muscles and joints, keeping them supple and strong. This is true for both you and your dog.
Exercise, even something as simple as a brisk walk, also helps keep your dog occupied and keeps him from getting bored. Especially for young rambunctious dogs, adequate exercise keeps his mind stimulated and allows him an outlet for pent-up energy. Dogs that receive regular exercise are generally better behaved and more easily trained. The same is true for you. Regular exercise keeps your mind more focused and alert as well.
Exercising with your dog also allows you time to bond more closely with your dog. Spending time together should be a pleasant experience for both you and your dog. The need to take your dog for a walk will give you the motivation to get off the couch and get moving, too.
Exercise does not have to be limited to walking either. Depending on the type of dog you have, you can take your dog jogging, hiking and more. Even activities such as doga (dog yoga) are gaining popularity. Use your imagination. What activities would you like to pursue with your dog?
Of course, before you or your dog start on any exercise program, check in with your doctor and veterinarian first.
Eating Right While Dieting with Your Dog
In most instances, we control what our dogs eat. Often, we’re guilty of overfeeding. Many times, we give treats that are not only unhealthy but high in calories as well. We need to moderate our diets and eat the right things to stay healthy. Our dogs are no different.
Dogs that have been spayed or neutered will have an altered metabolism that predisposes them to weight gain if overfed. It’s up to us as their caretakers to make sure they receive the right foods in the right quantities.
Choose a diet that is balanced and appropriate for your dog’s life stage. Consult with your veterinarian to find the best food for your dog. Ask your veterinarian to teach you to evaluate your dog’s body condition. Body condition is the best judge of your pet’s weight. At the appropriate weight, you should be able to feel your dog’s ribs.
Once you’ve chosen the diet, measure the quantities given daily. If you give in-between meal snacks, choose low calorie snacks. Carrots and frozen peas make good treats for dogs.
While your dog cannot eat the same diet you do, you can still share the experience together.