A long winter can often result in a bit more padding around the midsection – and our pets are just as susceptible! Obesity in our pets, unfortunately, has become a serious health threat. In 2018, an estimated 60% of cats and 56% of dogs in the United States were overweight or obese. Ouch!
First, it’s important to know how many calories your pet is eating daily. Talk to your veterinarian about how many calories he should be eating and guidelines for a safe weight loss plan. It’s important to take small steps, as “crash” diets can result in serious medical conditions.
If Fido has put on a few pounds this winter, here are some ways to get him active and help him lose weight:
The general recommendation is that dogs need at least 30-minutes of physical activity a day and cats should strive for three 5-minute intense play periods. There are some breeds of dogs that will require more exercise; Labradors, collies, shepherds, hounds, and other hunting, working, or herding groups that are in good health will need up to 1 to 2 hours of daily activity, with at least 30 minutes of vigorous activity.
Visit the vet – Especially if your dog is older, suffering from existing medical issues, or very overweight, it’s integral to get a wellness check before increasing his daily activity. Your vet can recommend a good exercise plan based on his breed, age, and other factors.
Start small – Don’t start out a sedentary dog with a quick paced, hour long walk on day one; intead, start slowly. Include a warm up and cool down period.
Break up the exercise into several walks throughout the day.
Exercise his mental muscles – Your dog will be more intrigued to walk if you take him on paths and places he’s never been before. Park trails, forest preserves, and dog parks can all be great stimulation and incentives to walk.
Introduce new toys and games – Buy several new toys! Playing catch, tug of war, chasing bubbles, obstacle courses, and hide and seek are all fun games that will get him moving and keep him mentally stimulated as well.
Above all, patience is key. Weight isn’t gained overnight, and it isn’t safely shed quickly either.
Need help walking your dog during the day? We can help with that! We offer flexible packages and pricing for your individual needs.