Summer Health and Fitness For Dogs
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.
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.
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.
6 Steps to Help your Dog Lose Weight
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
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.
When in doubt-Ask your vet!
Regular vet visits may save your dog! Your vet may consult the charts below:
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.
Make this summer a healthy and happy one! Share any tips or experiences in the comments below.