Did you know that Today is National Pet Obesity Awareness Day? With that in mind, today I'm sharing some tips about how to keep your fur-kid trim and also a few things to look for to know if your fur-kid is getting to be...a wee bit chunky.
Now first and foremost, all dogs are unique, and they each have their own specific exercise needs. For example, brachycephalic dogs, like pugs, should not be encouraged to run or play vigorously, as their short air passages make it very easy for them to lose their breath. Before following anything listed below - be sure to talk to your vet for specific advice on Fido's activity and health needs.
Another good step to start with while talking to your vet is to determine your dog’s weight loss goals. Not unlike with humans, the first step for your dog’s weight loss is to set some realistic goals. The best course is almost always a sustained weight loss over time so tracking progress over time is the best way to keep on top of your dog’s progress and you can then easily see if they are losing weight too slowly, too quickly, or if they have plateaued and adjust their plan as needed. Again, your vet will advise you on the best weight loss plan that is best for your fur-kid!
1. Maintain Proper Diet: according to many vets, pet obesity is not a pet problem, but a human problem. Regulating proper dog nutrition is one of the most important things that an owner should consider. You should know which kind of food and the right amount of food in each serving is good for your pooch. Consider feeding your dog a little bit less if they need to lose weight. Sometimes just following the recommendations on the back of a food bag can lead to overfeeding. Throughout a dog's life, they’ll probably require different amounts of food. So be careful when reading dog food labels Each dog food has its own recommendations on proportion sizes based on your dog’s weight. Please remember though to consult your veterinarian if you have any concerns about making a change to your dog's diet. They can help you come up with a plan that’s right for your dog. Try handing out fewer treats. We always have treats here at home and never really worry about Ozzy because she'll turn them down if she's too full. However, my little puppy nephew Rufus, because he's puppy training, they had to portion out how many kibbles he gets as a treat each day training out of his daily kibble allotment because he started gaining a lot of weight. Every dog is different so always be sure to check with your vet if you are thinking about changing their diet in any way. They're quite helpful in giving tips from food brands to raw diets and even helping to watch Fido's weight!
2. Go For A Walk. Not unlike humans, walking is the simplest way to exercise and spend more time with your dog. It maintains not only good reflexes but also a good relationship between you and your four-legged kid. You can make it an everyday routine or give it a different clique. Take your pooch to mini-adventures like hiking, check out the park, or meet a friend in the neighborhood for a doggie date. This can be the easiest way to get rid of doggie fats. Daily dog walks are more than just a way to get some exercise, it’s often the only chance your dog has each day to go out and explore. It’s such an important part of our dog's day, yet only 60% of us taking our dogs for a walk each day. Be sure to also use it as an opportunity to get in some training such as impulse control or loose leash walking. You can also make it exciting by exploring new trails or by inviting a friend or family member to join you. Even if Fido has a yard to play in, he'll still benefit from the activity, stimulation, and change of scenery those daily strolls provide.
3. Go for a run. Our canine BFF can make a great jogging partner. If Fido enjoys running, and your vet gives the thumbs-up, you can take him jogging with you. Let your dog do a daily running activity, but start the routine slowly. Your buddy may take it seriously and injure himself. Start a walk, then a walking-running combination. Lastly, try jogging a little then do the run. Remember, if your dog starts panting heavily or lagging behind, take a water break and then head for home.
4. Go for a Swim. Although swimming isn't right for every dog, if your four-legged friend loves the water, by all means, indulge him when it's warm out. Just put Fido's safety first. Never leave your dog near water unattended, and avoid spots with heavy wakes and/or strong currents. After all, swimmers are often known to be one of the fittest athletes so let your fur-kid try it out and swim in for a healthy body. First, find a clean body of water and let the pooch try it. If he seems interested, lead him to the water and encourage him to get his feet wet. If not, don’t let him down. Don't forget to give lots of praise and encouragement. As he learns to like the water, try throwing a floatable toy to encourage his doggie paddling.
5. Flyball. Flyball is a dog sport suitable for well-trained, energetic, and athletic dogs who are ball driven. It is a dog race wherein a team of dogs race against one another from start to finish line. The dogs will go over a line of hurdles to a box releasing a tennis ball when a spring-loaded pad is pressed. The dogs then run back to their owners carrying the ball. Such fast-paced sport will train dogs to develop speed and burn their fats as well. Its a great fast-paced workout and they get a little bit of socializing in too!
6. Surfing. If you have a place to do it and you're an avid surfer, and your dog is an avid swimmer, try to take advantage of his interest with water. Both of you can try surfing together. First, let the pooch try standing on a surfboard on dry land. Put him on water after he gets used to the situation. Your dog may be comfortable lying on the board at first, but with your encouragement, he’ll learn to surf with you. And yes, many dogs do surf! My favorite is Surf Dog Ricochet! She's pawtastic! They even have dog surfing competitions! How cool is that?!
7. Skateboarding. If surfing's not your thing, but you love to Skateboard, skateboarding can also become one of your pooch’s favorites. It can keep your dog busy in skating and forget about his eating business.
8. Dog Boot Camp. If you have one in the area, try taking your dog to a dog boot camp to undergo workouts and obedience training. In this way, the pooch gets a daily workout and learn disciplines in eating. You also have plenty of time to be with your buddy. You play, train, and fetch. There are also fit clubs for pets wherein you and your dogs can be the best workout buddies.
9. Engage in Some Interactive Play With Your Dog. It would we great if we all lived right by the beach or had access to a full agility course for our dogs, but many of us don’t so we have to improvise a bit. Try playing inside with your pet or coming up with some fun activities in your home like running up and down the stairs or puppy pushups!
10. Playtime. Playing isn't just good for entertaining your pet: it will also keep him in shape. Even a few minutes of chasing after a ball or Frisbee will get your dog's heart rate up.
11. Home Workout. Do you work out at home? Why not incorporate your pooch into your training sessions? Pick up a dog toy before doing sit-ups. When you sit up, toss the toy for your pup to run after. You can do similar things with lunges and squats. (It's worth noting that, although dogs seem to enjoy yoga, Fido may not be the best yoga buddy.)
Now a few fun tips to know if your pet might be obese.
1. No matter your dog's breed, you should be able to feel all of your dog's ribs without a thick layer of fat over them. Your dog's chest should also be wider than his abdomen, with a noticeable tuck-up from chest to stomach. An overweight dog will generally have no waist and no distinction between chest and stomach
2. If you don't know if your dog is overweight or not, it's best to seek professional help from your vet. However, between visits, you can look for some signs at home.
3. You may also notice he pants when walking, walks a bit slower than before, or naps more than usual. Some of the following could indicate a weight issue: Struggling to get up from a sitting or lying position, wheezing whilst breathing constant panting, avoiding play, or playing less than they used to, needing help to get in the car, on to sofas, or beds, getting upstairs, etc., appearing winded after minimal movement.
3. Check Your Dog’s Body Shape. One of the simplest ways to determine if your dog is fat is to look at the body shape. Looking at your dog from above, if you notice that the pup looks rather rotund and oval-shaped, it’s likely that your dog is fat. If, on the other hand, you notice that your dog has a defined waist toward the rear and a straight build down the sides, then they’re probably at a healthy weight.
4. Feel for Your Dog’s Ribs. The feel and prominence of your dog’s ribs are a major indicator of weight issues. If your dog’s ribs aren’t extremely prominent and you can easily feel them without having to press hard, then the dog is fit. For overweight dogs, it’s very difficult to feel their ribs because there is too much fat in the way.
5. Look at Your Dog From the Side. A sagging waist or swinging stomach is another tell-tale sign of a fat dog. When viewing your dog from the side, look for a waist that is slightly raised rather than simply hanging down and oval-shaped. A dog’s abdomen should not be the same level as the chest and should be tucked up.
I hope these tips help keep your fur-kid in tip-top shape and please remember if you have any questions about your pup's health, questions about if they are obese or how to help them lose weight be sure to check your vet!