Winter Weight…is so last season!
Do you notice a little extra around the middle? Feeling a little snug around the collar? When you look down, can you even see a waist? Don’t worry I am not talking about you, but your dog! Has your dog put on a few extra pounds? If chunky monkey is not your dog’s favorite toy, but a new nickname, then you need to find a way to get your dog in shape! Fortunately, it is easier than you think, and it can actually be fun!
Overweight dogs (and cats) are on the rise in America, and it is a huge problem, pun intended. Dogs are like humans, if they eat too much and don’t get enough exercise, um, they will get fat.
Simple enough, right? If it were only that simple then we would all be fit and healthy! Overfeeding is a big problem followed closely by a poor choice of food and lack of regular exercise. Before you start on a doggie diet, I recommend a talk with your vet first, so you can rule out any medical conditions. Some common diseases associated with weight gain include hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease.
Dogs take longer than humans to lose weight, so be patient. Most successful doggie diets require a human to step up and make a commitment to their dog’s health and nutrition.
Here are a few tips for a healthy doggie diet.
-Measure your food correctly. Remember, you control what your dog eats (or overeats). Make sure the serving size is appropriate for your specific dog breed, size, and age.
-Limit treats to one or two high quality treats per day. Try breaking the cookies into a few pieces to make it seem like more. Or try healthy veggies such as baby carrots, green beans, cut apples or celery.
-Keep lots of fresh water available.
-Exercise daily with your dog. Walking is a great way to start exercising. Keep a brisk pace and gradually increase the length of each walk. Take care of potty business before you start a walk so you don’t have to stop every other step to look for a good spot to “go.”
-Keep an eye out for dehydration, overheating, limping, struggling or fatigue. With obese dogs, work up to longer distances slowly but steadily.
In Rhode Island, we are lucky to have many great parks, beaches and hiking trails on which to wander. We also have doggie yoga classes, (downward dog for your dog!) You can hire a doggie personal trainer that will create a specific workout plan for your pooch. Woodsy type? There are some really nice people will take your dog hiking in the woods for you, if you cannot find the time to do it yourself.
Spring is in the air and that “winter weight” will soon be a thing of the past! Now is the time to get you and your dog in shape for all of the hound hikes, dog parades and the K-9 friendly 5k races that I know you are going to enter this year. Remember to hug your dog everyday…yes everyday!
This is from Jaye’s monthly column, PAWS UP! at Get Magazine.