Canine Obesity is on the rise, why? Well there is no real one cause but it is a combination of our lifestyles, the roles dogs play in our families and not enough education on our parts.
I hope to discuss some basics of exercise, diet and lifestyle here and some ways that you can easily fit all of these into your busy schedule. I work very long hours and this includes many weekends, helping people with their dogs, which leaves me less time for my own of course, but there are many ways to exercise your dog that don’t take as much times as you may think.
Lets start by talking about what Canine Obesity is, it is really worthwhile to read this interview given to us by friend of K9Pro, Dr Chris McIver, Head of the Small Animal Unit at the Teaching University of Camden. Chris has given some great digestible information. Read Chris’ interview here.
I probably don’t see as many obese dogs as Chris would as many of my clients are competitors or have working dogs, which helps keep them fit, but I still see plenty and I guess one concern that I do understand is that, the dogs that are overweight are loved family members. It isn’t through lack of care that these dogs are this way, instead their owners may be “loving them to death“. Most dogs love food, and it is a way that we can give affection, but the gift of giving may be a little too much for some.
Overfeeding as a term of affection is very common and people can feel really guilty when they cut back their dogs food and see a dog looking for more. Well there are ways around this and it doesn’t have to be a a situation of “you have to be cruel to be kind” either. There are low calorie commercial dog diets that will leave your dog feeling satisfied but without adding the weight, so if you feed commercial foods, these can be just as easy as your current method of feeding, just more calorie smart. Of course portion size still an important consideration.
Later this week you will see some articles from renowned BARF diet superstar, Dr Ian Billinghurst. Dr Billinghurst was happy to write some articles for us at K9Pro to help us supply our readers up to date, accurate information on diets for their dogs. BARF diets are made from raw foods that are designed from a wild dogs natural diet, which has been proven successful over many years of evolution.
One of the benefits of feeding a raw diet is that you prepare it at home and you can alter the ratios of fresh fruit and vegetables to meat and reduce your dogs weight without leaving your dog hungry. It is much more simple than you might think and very easy to control your dogs weight, but do remember that food isn’t the sole contributor to overweight dogs.
Spend some time reading Ian’s articles, grab one of his books and arm yourself with information that can help you understand more about feeding your dog a healthy home made diet.
Obesity causes many health problems and will shorten your dogs life expectancy, that has been proven many times.
Exercise plays a big part on keeping our dogs fit and healthy, but many people don’t exercise their dogs enough, and there are a number of reasons why.
I have listed a few and some basic solutions to consider that may help you and your dog.
My dog pulls on the leash and is no pleasure to walk
S: This is a really common problem and I do understand that a dog pulling on the leash is not a fun walk for humans. Here are some thoughts that may help.
A good trainer will likely get the pulling under some sort of control in one lesson and with a little practice at home, you will be walking proudly with your trained dog.
Most dogs pull toward a perceived reward or destination. You can put your dog in the car and take it to the park, when you get there simply get your dog out of the car and your at the destination. If your dog wont come when called use a long line that your dog can drag so you will be able to get your dog back at the end.
My dog is reactive or aggressive toward other dogs so I can’t take my dog out.
There are a number of reasons dogs are reactive or aggressive, but lack of exercise will only exacerbate this problem. A dog that is reactive or aggressive rarely is in a good place in its life and would really benefit from some behavioural therapy. Seek out a good behaviourist and see what they can do for you.
Not all exercise has to be done outside of the home or yard, you can play games of fetch, hide an seeks etc in your own yard.
Treadmills for dogs have gained a lot of popularity in the last few years, we use one with our dogs to make sure they get the right amount of cardio work per day. Dog treadmills have dog specific programs just like human treadmills and they can help you exercise your dog without leaving home. Human treadmills aren’t suitable for dogs, so we can’t use those without possibly causing harm. We recommend and stock the Fit Fur Life Treadmills, whilst not a cheap item, they are an investment and will last you many years.
You can add quite a degree of safety to a reactive dog by using a muzzle, this of course will render your dog unable to bite another.
I am just so short of time I cannot exercise my dog!
Well I guess at some stage you will need to see what is absorbing your time and make allowances for your dog, if not there isn’t much point to having one. Some things that can help get more bang for your buck in shorter times are things such as backpacks, Chuckit Ball launchers, treadmills, frisbee‘s and fitballs.
All of these make the most out of your time and amplify the exercise your dog gets in a shorter time and of course they are less strain on your body if your not up to the work yourself. A dog that walks with a loaded back pack can receive a great workout in only 15 minutes!
Chuckit launchers can shoot a ball a few hundreds meters with little effort from you!
Fitballs build core and truck strength and are a great way to exercise your dog, whilst it isn’t cardio work in will help your dog lose weight and is very mentally stimulating.
Swimming can be a great way to exercise your dog, there are many dedicated dog pools that you can go to and of course many beaches and rivers allow dogs as well.
Many people pay a dog walker to take their dog to daycare during the working week.
There are also dog sports that can be great fun and quite simple even if your just starting out
So to recap: –
- Take a look at your dog’s diet, perhaps convert to raw feeding and make sure your dog is getting a good, healthy diet that has the correct portion size.
- Look at your options for exercising your dog, will you re arrange your schedule? get some equipment that will help you? hire a dog walker, do a combination of things?
If you have a dog that is obese or overweight, correcting this is about a change of lifestyle, not just cutting back food, or giving your dog a big run once per week, your going to need to make a plan and stick to it.
The upside is that your dog will love it, live a longer more well balanced life and the exercise wont hurt you either!
Go on, get out there! Spring is here and he weather is warming up!