I will be the first to admit – a chunky dog is probably one of the cutest things that you will ever see. However, dogs that are overweight or obese can suffer from serious medical conditions due to the excess pounds. These conditions can include diabetes, pancreatitis, hip and/or elbow dysplasia, even metabolic conditions such as hypothyroidism. This is why, as cute as he may be, your favorite canine companion needs to be in shape and the following guide will help you help him, do it. Keep reading for the best ways to get your dog in shape.
Why It’s So Important:
Obesity is not only detrimental to your dogs’ health, but it can also greatly affect his overall quality of life. Many dogs suffer from being overweight or obese and not only does it cause undue stress on bones and joints, but it can also cause more serious medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. And, if left unaddressed, will likely greatly reduce his lifespan.
Benefits of Getting Your Dog Into Shape:
Well, there are the most obvious reasons – preventing serious illness and early death, but there are also other benefits to getting your four-legged friend into the best shape of his life. These can include having more energy, displaying fewer bad behaviors, and an overall, increased sense of well-being. A healthy pooch is a happy pooch and a happy pooch makes for a happy owner. Many times added weight can make your pup feel uncomfortable, lethargic, and just not himself. These personality changes can develop into bad habits. Getting into shape will have a positive domino effect on your dog’s life.
Pinpoint the Why:
One of the very first steps towards getting Fido in shape is going to be figuring out exactly why he has gained weight in the first place. Is your pooch largely inactive? Does he overeat? Could there be an underlying health issue contributing to his weight problems? Pinpointing the cause of the weight gain will provide the foundation of your dogs’ weight loss plan. This is why every exercise plan should start with an examination by the veterinarian. Certain medical conditions will impede weight loss or even make them gain weight, and many of these conditions require medication to treat.
Regular Veterinary Visits are Crucial:
Working with your canine companions’ medical team is going to be the very best way to get, and keep your dog in shape. They will help formulate a fitness plan, one that works for your dog’s specific needs. They will also be able to rule out any underlying conditions that could be impeding any exercise and treat accordingly. Regular examinations, every 6 months to a year, can catch any possible health issue that pops up so that it can be treated correctly.
Limiting the Scooby Snacks:
All things in moderation – not sure who said it but they were smart and absolutely right. However, admittedly, it is easier said than done, especially when Fido is giving you the soulful puppy dog eyes. Most pet owners are guilty of overindulging their favorite furballs and that includes giving an overabundance of treats. Getting your pup in shape does not have to mean cutting out the treats altogether, but rather, either reducing the amounts or switching to a healthier alternative, like these low-calorie dog treats. Other options: carrots, celery, even ice cubes.
Formulate a Feeding Schedule (and Stick to It):
One of the most common ways that dogs pack on the pounds is by being given the option to ‘free-feed’, meaning that they have food available to them at all times, and are able to eat as little or as much as they want. When you are trying to get Fido back into shape, you are going to need to put him on a strict feeding schedule. Do your research or ask your veterinarian how much your specific dog should be eating every day and start measuring out the meals. This is what he should be fed daily – no more, no less. And, don’t let their above-average acting skills fool you – a dog will pretend that he is absolutely starving, long after his caloric requirements have been met.
Pay Attention to the Food Labels:
While exercise is obviously a large part of getting your four-legged friend in shape, it is a given that diet also plays a pivotal role. There are more than a few prospects when it comes to diet, low-fat, or low-calorie dog food, and you also have the option to obtain a prescription diet from the veterinarian. Regardless of which food route you choose to go, you need to pay extra special attention to the labels and ingredients. Certain ingredients such as generic animal fats, which are procured from unknown sources, can be unhealthy. Instead, look for alternative ingredients like fish oil, salmon oil, canola oil, and sunflower oil, which are much better for Fido.
Get a Fitness Tracking Device for Your Dog:
Yes, it’s really a thing. These nifty little doggy gadgets help you keep track of Fido’s fitness progress. Something like the FitBark is relatively inexpensive and can help to fine-tune the workouts. It will collect information on your dog’s physical activity as well as any rest sessions. This is a great way to keep track of your dog’s progress and adjust it accordingly.
Make it a Lifestyle Choice:
Considering that you and your dog are already partners in crime, one of the best ways to get your dog in shape is to participate in his fitness activities. Jogging, biking, hiking, swimming, you name it. Grab your FitBit and get one for Fido too – then get moving. You will both be in the best shape of your lives in no time at all.
Food is NOT Love:
Many, many pet owners fall victim to this pound packing activity. Your dog loves food, you love your dog, it’s really a natural progression. But, alas, we must not show our love by overfeeding Fido. As hard as it is to resist those big, sad, eyes, love means keeping him healthy so he can be with you for as long as possible. Show your adoration for your furry best friend by taking nice, long walks and playing an energetic game of fetch at the local dog park instead of showing your love with unnecessary calories.
Dietary Details + Inactivity:
There are two main components when it comes to weight gain, and your dog is no exception. Finding the correct, healthy, and nutritional diet is a big one. There are plenty of options for low-calorie doggy diets and your veterinarian will be glad to recommend the best one for your dogs’ needs. Inactivity when combined with an unhealthy diet is the perfect recipe for weight gain disaster. Get Fido up and moving – and switch to a healthy, beneficial diet.
Keep it Age Appropriate:
Exercise is good for everyone, but not unlike their human counterparts, age should always be taken into account. Older dogs are more likely to strain or injure themselves. In addition, large breed puppies should also use caution when exercising as anything too vigorous can hurt their growing bones and joints. Any doggy workouts should be age, and condition, appropriate. For example, do not overexert a dog that has a history of cardiac issues.
Consider Professional Classes:
With work and all of the other stresses in the world, dedicating time to get your pooch in shape might not be feasible, and that’s okay. Consider signing Fido up for a fitness class with professional dog trainers. The goal is to get your pooch in tip-top shape, it doesn’t really matter how you get him there.
Tools for Success:
Thankfully technology has made getting our pets into shape so much easier. There are several tools and tricks of the trade that can assist you both in reaching the goal of a doggy hot bod.
Get a Doggy Treadmill: Yes, seriously. The PETSITE Dog Treadmill is an actual piece of exercise equipment made specifically for your dog.
Invest in an Interactive Ball Launcher: The IFetch Ball Launcher not only provides hours upon hours of fun, but it also gets your pooch moving with or without your help. This is a great way for Fido to get some exercise even when you are busy doing other things.
Two Birds – One Stone: Take a bike ride and get your pooch some exercise at the same time. This hands-free bike leash attaches directly to your bicycle, at a safe distance, so you can both get moving, together.
Don’t Forget the Hydration: Outdoor activities are a great way to get your dog in shape but you must be sure to keep him hydrated. This dog water bottle is super handy and made for on the go.
Getting your dog in shape is not always easy, but it has to be done because we want our furry family members to be with us for as long as possible. And, thankfully, there are plenty of tools at our disposal that can help us do just that. As long as you have the dedication to, and the love for, your precious furball, it can happen. Simply put, the best way to get your dog in shape is through hard work, devotion, and bribery (not joking). Be his cheerleader and watch Fido’s excess blubber melt away. All anyone really needs is for someone to believe in them. Good luck!