Exercise With Your Dog to Prevent Obesity

Exercise With Your Dog to Prevent Obesity

According to the National Pet Obesity Awareness Day Study conducted by 95 veterinary clinics nationwide, more than 44 percent of all dogs are overweight or downright obese. The fat stats for people in America are even higher, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting that around 67 percent of adults are heavier than they should be. In addition to eating a healthy, balanced diet, both you and your dog need exercise to stay as fit and trim as possible.

If you share your digs with one or more dogs, you have already made a health-boosting decision, reports the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction (ReCHAI). Their members determined that:

  • Dogs lower their owner’s blood pressure.
  • Dogs improve our psychological health.
  • Dogs encourage us to exercise.

That last finding helps to explain the other two, but why is a dog-human team such a winner in terms of exercise?

Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound
A recent ReCHAI program paired senior citizens with either a human or a canine walking buddy. At the end of the project, researchers measured how much the seniors’ activity levels improved.

“The older people who walked their dogs improved their walking capabilities by 28 percent,” says Dr. Rebecca Johnson, director of ReCHAI. “They had more confidence walking on the trail, and they increased their speed. The older people who walked with humans only had a 4 percent increase in their walking capabilities. The human walking buddies tended to discourage each other and used excuses such as the weather being too hot.”

Guidelines for Exercising With Your Dog
Before heading out on the trail with your dog, schedule a checkup for you and your furry friend. Dr. Susan Nelson, a veterinarian at Kansas State University also advises that you keep the following dozen guidelines in mind:

1.    In general, large, working dogs have higher energy needs than smaller/toy breeds, which require less exercise.

2.    Your dog should exercise anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes twice daily, depending on its size, breed, age and condition.

3.    Medium and large dogs typically make better long-distance running partners. Smaller dogs are better-suited for short-distance running or walking.

4.    Keep plastic disc throws low to avoid injuring your dog’s joints.

5.    Swimming is a fantastic non-joint-stressing exercise for both dogs and humans. Retrievers tend to be at the top of the swimming pack.

6.    Add mental stimulation, such as a hide-and-seek element, into your dog playtime. Border collies and other working breeds need such stimulation to stay happy.

7.    Avoid walking and running on sand and hot, hard surfaces. Soft lawn grass or smooth dirt paths are better.

8.    Dogs with short noses, such as bulldogs and Boston terriers, succumb to heat exhaustion more readily, since they cannot cool themselves down like other dogs can. If your dog starts acting woozy, gets a dark red-colored tongue or thick, ropy saliva, stop, move to a shaded area and offer water.

9.    Take frequent breaks.

10. Don’t go on long runs or walks with puppies, since their bones are still developing. Dogs can handle longer periods out at the age of 15 months or older.

11. Don’t feed your dog right before or after intense exercise, as this could cause stomach upset or dangerous bloating and/or stomach twisting.

12. Many dogs suffer foot damage after being exposed to cold surfaces during the winter months. Limit time outdoors and also take special care that your dog does not drink from puddles, as they could be contaminated with antifreeze. Small-breed dogs may require a jacket for outdoor activities.  

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Posted on March 10, 2012

Lisa says: What a horror story; which phnaeps all too often, I'm afraid. I can fully understand your frustrations, and I'm sure you are already aware of all the things you did wrong with the buying of this puppy.However, it is unfair to call you names as some have done or berate you for being a hoarder ; which we do not know to be true. You sound like someone that truly loves animals and care deeply about them. I can also understand you wanting a dream dog , and paying money for her. Although we never did this for any other dog, we paid money for our present furbaby and she's worth every penny of it and then some, even though she is a shih tzu/terrier mix. The only thing I fail to see is why the need for another dog when you already have 7. But, that is your business. In the home where my daughter lives they have 6 dogs, (none of which are pedigree dogs!) and all are well cared for, taken to vets on time, and to groomers all the time; and no, they are not hoarders! They just love dogs.So now, I would like to offer these suggestions: Mix the Merrick canned food with some Merrick dry food, and gradually decrease the canned foods until you are happy with her eating habits) I must say, we feed our little one Merrick dry food, and they are a little more expensive, but she loves them and they are so good and healthy for herAs for her crying when you are gone, I hope your husband will have more patience with her and perhaps even hold her and give her some attention when you are not there, to help her get over her separation anxieties.You didn't say how old the puppy is supposed' to be, and maybe therein lies part of your problem it is just too young to have been taken from it's Mom. And perhaps all the other dogs seem overwhelming and scary to the little puppy. Maybe you need to isolate her while you are gone; and even have her in a crate, and she will soon learn you are coming back and she is safe from all the big guys' out there.Consult with your vet, and see what he/she suggests, and then, all I can say is Good luck dear and God bless.

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