Summer Health and Fitness For Dogs

Get Fit for the SummerSummer Health for Dogs- golden retriever enjoying the beach

Is your dog overweight?

The sun is shining and the weather is warming up! What a great time to shape up- both for you and your dog. 

Golden shaking it off at Cherry Beach- summer health

Shaking it off at Cherry Beach

Is your best friend a healthy weight and size?  Over 30% of dogs (and humans) are not. Obesity is one of the single biggest preventable health risks to our pets. We all want our pets to live longer happier lives so this is one area we have to really pay attention.

Kilo the Pug shaking my hand

Kilo the Pug trusts me to keep him healthy

I struggle keeping Kilo the Pug slim as we both love food, a lot. However, I adjust what and how much I feed and exercise levels regularly to keep him in shape. He trusts me to do the best for him (even if he would love to eat a pizza now and then LOL).

Check out the handy Hill’s Body Fat Index Chart at the end of this article to see how your pet measures up.

Also check out Slim Doggy’s handy widget in our sidebar for calories.

A Healthy Diet is Key

It is very important to remember, FOOD IS NOT LOVE. In fact, you may be killing you pet with “kindness” if you are over feeding them.

If your dog appears to be in the higher body mass range, and all other potential health conditions have been ruled out, it may be time to tighten up their routine to help them reach a healthier weight.

Read More about finding healthy dog food.

6 Steps to Help your Dog Lose Weight

  1. Look for a dog food that’s right for your dog’s caloric needs. Several friends love feeding raw. I have not made the full leap to raw but I do like kibble and wet food or freeze dried with a named meat as the main ingredient with no by-products. Food that is high in protein and low in carbohydrates or filler to keep your dog full and lean. I am currently feeding Kilo high-quality grain free kibble with freeze-dried raw boosts. Plus I may make him yummy healthy food to supplement it.
  2. Watch the quantity of the food your dog may be eating. Talk to your vet about how much your dog needs. Overfeeding is not only expensive as you are wasting money on food you don’t need to, but it can also lead to large vet bills.
  3. Treats or food given training or by other members of the household can add up. Find a variety of treats including low cal healthy options (Kilo loves fresh vegetables like carrot sticks, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans etc), Make sure all the people in your dog’s life know that although your dog is adorable, extra fattening treats could be harmful to their health. If you can not resist giving a few little table scrap snacks (Kilo loves chicken and salmon sushi), make sure you take that into consideration and keep amounts small and healthy.
  4. Use a structured feeding schedule and avoid “free feeding” methods that may cause a dog to overeat out of boredom or access. Kilo gets 2 small meals a day- breakfast and dinner.
  5. I add a little water and home made or wet food to Kilo’s Kibble to slow him down and make him feel fuller (and make sure he gets enough water).
  6. I make Kilo work for approximately one third of his food each day doing puzzles, playing go find, doing tricks, playing chase. He runs around and challenges his mind and body.

Upgrade your Exercise Routine

Just like people, dogs adapt to exercise routines, which may render them less effective over time. Shake up the routine by adding 5 or 10 minutes of higher-intensity activity out of your dog’s norm. This could mean a good session of fetch sprinting, or going for a run instead of a walk or trying Lure or Agility. Maybe try swimming or dock diving. We took Kilo to Cherry beach with his cousins and there were so many dogs enjoying the water.

Buster the Portuguese Water Dog dock diving safely in Muskoka

Buster the Portuguese Water Dog Puppy in Muskoka

Never push your dog too hard, especially in the heat.  Monitor their breathing and behaviour during more intense workouts and try to do them in the morning or late afternoon, or even indoors with aircon. 

Especially with dogs with heavy coats or squishy faces – Don’t miss our 13 Important dog heat safety tips for summer, and especially what NOT to do if you dog gets Heat stroke.

With aging, dogs’ bodies change and metabolisms slow, just like humans. Adapt their diet and make sure your dog stays healthy and active well into old age. Tailor routines to their ability levels, especially during the later years. 

TH-3-more-dogs-water-640x439

When in doubt-Ask your vet!

Regular vet visits may save your dog! Your vet may consult the charts below:

Screen shot 2014-05-23 at 2.24.17 PM

Screen shot 2014-05-23 at 2.24.38 PM

Reprinted with permission by the copyright owner, Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc.

Excessive weight gain may be a symptom of diseases such as hypothyroidism.  It may also increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and even cancer.  Make sure your vet approves the diet and exercise plan you have chosen for your dog, and keep them  updated on changes in routine, dog behaviour, and weight shifts. 

Read more on fighting dog obesity

Make this summer a healthy and happy one! Share any tips or experiences in the comments below.

 

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21 Comments

  • Mr. N is totally beach ready! Wish I had his metabolism lol.

  • Great tips – I hope people take the time to really look at that chart and really LOOK at their dog! Thanks for joining the Hop.

  • Great tips. The beach is really pretty.

  • Oh man, looking at all those great pictures makes me want to head out to the beach right now!

    New follower! Come by and see us!

  • Ruby seems to have gained a tiny bit of weight while we are away at BlogPaws last week. I think she was stress eating the cat food. We have now increased her walks and reduced her treats. She doesn’t seem to mind as she is just happy we are home.

    • Profile photo of Talent Hounds

      I have a feeling Kilo will be a basketball by the time I go home. We will both be on a bit of a restricted diet and more morning walking when I get back. I tried skyping but he just got totally confused. So fun seeing you. XS

  • So many people don’t realize their pets are overweight. It is especially a problem with cats that are free fed dry food. Great suggestions for helping dogs lose weight.

  • Great post with lots of great information and tips! We’ve had some minor weight issues in our pack in the past, but nothing major.

  • Great tips and important post! Luckily, we don’t have to worry about weight issues with our dog.

  • Oh, Super cute video – we wanna go to Cherry Beach too! Susan, it was so great seeing you at the Blogpaws conference, we had such fun didn’t we? Very timely post, so many dogs spent the Winter indoors with little activity.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  • This is a really great post! I agree that many people equate love with food to their dogs! As a dog trainer who uses food with training, I try really hard to educate my clients on how to maintain their dog’s weight even though they are training with food. It’s so very important!!

  • Many people I come in contact with don’t walk their dogs. Since they have fenced yards they simply let the dogs walk around the yard. Very frustrating…..

  • Layla thank goodness is perfect weight as I watch her. She loves the beach and cannot wait for warmer weather to take her (its been cold here the past weeks) She even has a canopy for shade 🙂

  • I’m very lucky that Truffle and Brulee don’t overeat. I, however, am another story!

  • Excellent post! Love the beach…great video! Thanks for sharing all the great and important info. Pinned it on my “Bark About” board!

  • Thanks for the great tips and reminder that food does not equal love — so many of us were taught this and I have seen the damage it can do when pet parents don’t see what it’s done to their dog or cat. There is a kind of blindness that sets in, which is pretty scary! I had to adjust Tashi’s treats to twice a week since his level of activity is low at nearly 17 years. He was not on board with that at first, but then really liked the raw carrot or apple treat he’d get instead. He saw the big dog chomping on carrots and it was funny to watch him delight in getting the same thing (much smaller of course)!

  • These are great suggestions to help maintain a healthy weight for dogs. When we adopted Theo, he was 10-12 pounds overweight, which was quite a lot since his ideal weight is 26-28 pounds. It took a while, but he has been a healthy weight for over 2 years now.

  • Wonderful tips, it really doesn’t take much just as long as you do something every day! I really want to go to the lake now!!! 🙂