Is your precious pup having a tough time with a few extra pounds? Maybe a lot of extra weight? Don't despair, it's time to get moving on some simple ways you can improve their health.
Importance of Dog Exercise: More Than Just Weight Loss
Are you giving your dog enough opportunity to exercise every day? If not, it’s not only a likely contributor to the excess weight, but inactivity can affect their mood. Dogs, like humans, need to be in the fresh air and move around in the great outdoors. It's particularly important since so much of who they are is their keen sense of smell. The portion of a dog's brain devoted to analyzing scent is 40 times that of humans. So they're really missing out on what it means to be a dog if they don't get to explore and sniff their way through your neighborhood.
"Exercising with your pet also promotes the human-animal bond," said Dr. Susan Nelson, Kansas State University veterinarian and assistant professor of clinical sciences. "People like dogs because of their unconditional love, and dogs are going to be very pleased to have their owners do something with them."
Your dog needs to be outside at least twice a day. We all live busy lives, so if you have a backyard, let them out to play... maybe play a little fetch to get their blood going for 10 minutes. Recommended times and frequency vary greatly by your dog’s age and breed. While an active breed like the Australian cattle dog needs lots of exercise time, short nose dogs like pugs can't handle long bouts of activity.
There are plenty of weight reducing pet foods you can go with. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention recommend gradually changing your dog’s diet. Over a three- to four-day period mix in the new food, gradually increasing its portion of the total meal. This will help "ease in" the new taste for your dog.
Here are a few additional easy tips:
Avoid using self-feeders for dogs. While cats tend to graze more than dogs, many dogs will eat anything within their grasp.
Don’t give them table scraps. There are allergy concerns as well, but far too many of us are suckered into spoiling our dogs with human food and it often means excess calories.
Cut back a little on the treats. Yes, that puppy dog stare is difficult to resist, but if you give them treats throughout the day, cut back to once or twice.
Encourage child’s play. Do you have kids? Kill two birds with one stone by getting them exercise by having playtime with your dog.
Portions and type of food are so personalized to a breed and its specific health. In fact, diet may not be the problem at all, but an underlying health condition. This underscores the importance of never embarking on a weight loss strategy for your dog without first consulting with your veterinarian.