Blog Dog Fitness – Fit or Fat?
Dog fitness? just like humans, come in all shapes and sizes. Some are lean and fit, some are overweight, and some are just downright obese. Obesity in pets, just as in humans, can be caused by a variety of factors.
Some of these factors are health related (i.e. kidney, liver, thyroid, joint, hip or limb problems) and some are environmental (i.e. mom and dad simply over feed them and they do not get enough exercise). Excess weight in a pet can create a host of ailments, as well as put unnecessary stress on the heart, lungs, kidneys, and joints. Some ailments that are common in overweight pets are diabetes, arthritis, cancer and bone and joint diseases.
According to a Pet Obesity Study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention,
- An estimated 48% of all pets in the US are overweight or Obese
- An estimated 43% of US dogs are overweight
- An estimated 10% of US dogs are obese
Imagine you are the owner female black lab. She is currently about 68lbs. and although she is in the normal weight range for her breed, as set by the American Kennel Club of 55 to 70lbs, she is little shorter than the breed standard, which makes her overweight. In addition, her ribs are not visible, nor can they be easily felt when you run your hands along her flank. Another sign is that there is no visible sweep between the end of her rib cage and her abdomen. The vet confirmed these visible and clinical signs at our most recent physical. He would recommend a weight loss of 5 -8 pounds. In order for you to help her lose weight, you will need to reduce her caloric intake, as well as get her on an exercise regime. Cutting back on the amount of treats is a perfect way to prevent this problem from reoccurring.
As for the exercise, I will pick exercises that fit with my schedule and preferences. Since I am not a big jogger or runner and biking with her has proven dangerous for both of us, I will instead let her do the work with one of her favorite activities – fetch. I will use my racquetball racquet, which doesn’t get much use any way, and a bag of tennis balls and lob some balls for her to retrieve for 15 – 20 minutes. Another way for me to ensure she gets adequate exercise, which does not require me to invest a lot of time, is to let her play in daycare 2-3 days per week. The mental and physical stimulation the daycare environment provides cannot be beat for helping to burn those excess calories and get her back in shape.
Dogs can live a long and healthy life if you make the right choices for her/him each and every day. After all, control their eating habits, choice of foods and quality of ingredients, as well as their access to mental and physical exercise.