Whether your dog is bubbling over with energy or prefers to snooze on the couch all day, staying in shape is an important part of their overall health. Obesity is as common in dogs as it is in humans, and extra pounds affect canine health in similarly negative ways.
An active dog benefits from a faster metabolism, better muscle tone, a more regular digestive system, and less stress. Dogs love to hunt, chase, herd, and run, and it’s a dog owner’s job to encourage those activities. Combine proper exercise with a healthy diet, and your pooch will be fit, trim, and happier than ever. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Stay Motivated For Daily Walks
The easiest way to get your pup moving is to go on daily walks. If you’re starting from the beginning, your walks don’t have to be long. Start with a 15-20 minute trek, and make a commitment to do it every day. If you’re struggling to stay motivated, remind yourself how beneficial the simple act of going for a walk is for your dog. Explore new areas, invite a friend to go with you, or combine the walk with valuable off-leash or impulse control training to keep yourself interested. Rain, snow, sleet, or busy schedule, you owe it to your dog to lace up those sneaks and get moving.
Get Out And Play
Walking and running aren’t the only active things you can do with your dog. Spend time together and learn what kind of interactive play your dog likes best. Does your Lab live for a long game of fetch? Or maybe your Border Collie would rather spend a half hour snagging frisbees from the air. There’s really no limit to the kind of play you can engage your dog in. Try out biking, swimming, tug-of -war, and nose work. Your dog will burn calories, but you’ll be having so much fun you won’t even notice.
Be Picky About Dog Food
Not all dog food should be treated equally. Just like human food, there are some brands that simply aren’t good for your pup. Learning how to read a dog food label is the best way to tell if your dog’s food is helping or hurting. If you see the ingredients corn and wheat gluten, meat by-product, grain meal, rendered fat, BHA, or BHT on the back of the bag, it’s time to consider changing your dog’s diet.
Admit it, those puppy dog eyes are your weakness. It’s impossible to withhold that last bite of peanut butter sandwich or pizza crust when you have the world’s cutest dog staring up at you. While giving your dog the occasional table scrap isn’t a bad thing, it can turn into a problem if you do it too often. Instead of sharing your food, choose healthy dog treats that are easy to dole out in “adorable emergencies” (which of course, is all the time!). Most kinds of training treats are only a few calories, and small slices of Fido-friendly fruits and veggies are also nutritious options.
Talk to Your Vet
As always, your vet is the best resource for everything to do with your dog’s health. If you’re concerned Fido is overweight, a vet will give you the best advice on how to get his health back on track. It’s important to consult your vet before you commit to vigorous exercise that your dog isn’t used to. His abilities will depend on his age, breed, and overall health, and too much exercise can be just as bad as letting him be a couch potato.
Not only will your dog look and feel better with the right diet and exercise plan, they’ll also behave better and sleep more soundly at night. The benefits of staying in shape are physical, emotional, and psychological. It’s time to put down the remote, grab the leash, and get moving!