Resolutions for a Healthier Pet

It’s the beginning of a new year, and that means many of us have made resolutions that we hope will improve our lives. Frequently, these resolutions include eating healthier and getting more exercise. But what about our pets?

Pet obesity is a rising epidemic in the United States, and it’s costing our beloved pets years off their lives. Extra weight puts stress on joints and vital organs, promotes premature aging, and can lead to complications like diabetes. Keeping your dog slim and trim will add years to his life, and keep him feeling younger longer!

What you can do to keep your pet healthy:

1.)   Know what a healthy weight is for your dog. Dogs are supposed to have a well-defined waist when viewed from above, and a significant tuck-up after the ribcage when viewed from the side. While different breeds and individual dogs may have different shapes, no dog should be round or tube-shaped when viewed from either top or side. Your dog’s ribs should also be easily palpable. Running your hand along your dog’s side should feel similar to touching the back of your hand, with the bones felt clearly beneath a thin layer of skin and fat. If you have to push to find ribs, or if you can’t find ribs at all, your dog is overweight.

2.)   Regulate and portion food/treats. If you’re free feeding, that is, allowing the dog as much food as he wants, he’s unlikely to maintain a healthy weight. “But shouldn’t he naturally only eat when he’s hungry?” This is a common sentiment expressed by owners, and it couldn’t be more wrong. Your dog is, at heart, a wild scavenger, and in nature, dogs must take whatever food they can find, as soon as they find it.  The vast majority of domestic dogs retain this attitude, and should never be trusted to self-regulate. Measure out your dog’s food using a measuring cup, and remember, the instructions on the bag are merely a suggestion and a starting point. You may need to reduce or increase the amount of food given based on your dog’s condition

3.)   Feed high quality food. Most commercial pets foods are full of junk – even the brands we know and trust best, that have stocked pet store shelves for years. Read the ingredients carefully, and beware of things like corn, wheat, and soy. These are “junk” fillers, and amongst other things, often contribute to an unhealthy weight. We carry a few select brands of grain free, low-carb, meat based foods that can help your dog look and feel his best.

4.)   Provide regular exercise. Dogs, just like people, need plenty of exercise to stay in shape. Walking, jogging, swimming, and hiking are all excellent sources of exercise. Not only will your dog burn calories, he’ll build muscle, which in turn increases his metabolism. If it’s just too cold out or you’ve got things to do, bring your dog in to Frisky Dog for some playtime! All the running and jumping is sure have him looking and feeling his best in no time.

An Important Note

Before beginning rigorous exercise or a stringent diet, please consult with a veterinarian! Remember that your dog’s exercise should be increased slowly, particularly in dogs that very overweight or obese. Start with low impact activities like swimming or free running on soft grass, and avoid high impact exercise like leashed jogging on concrete with very heavy pets. Similarly, puppies and adolescent dogs are not developed enough to sustain forced, repetitive exercise. Off leash running on a soft surface is better exercise for these dogs.