There is little doubt that people in today’s society spend a good portion of their time thinking about how to stay fit. We think about what and when we eat and we try to develop an exercise plan that fits our busy schedules. Unfortunately, too few dog owners consider their dog’s fitness needs and as a result health and weight problems in dogs are on the rise. While you may believe that your dog can manage his own fitness, this is simply not true. However, with the help of their caretakers, dogs can be very fit and lead a long and happy life.
Before starting any new exercise plan with your dog, speak to your veterinarian first. Depending on the age, weight, and general health of your dog, your veterinarian will probably suggest different types of exercise. Indeed, even different breeds require different kinds of exercise and you also want to ensure that your dog’s heart and joints are healthy enough for exercise. But beyond exercise, diet is also an important aspect of your dog’s fitness. Many commercially available dog foods do not necessarily offer the nutrition we expect. As such, it is important as a dog owner to carefully review and understand food labels and to provide your dog with a balanced diet that is rich in protein and low in fillers and fat.
Of course, when it comes to exercise, there are many easy options available for dog owners. Walking is the easiest and most common form of dog exercise that is also a great benefit to owners. Start with short walks and gradually build to longer walks if your dog is not familiar with the extra exercise. Many dogs also love swimming which is one of the healthiest forms of exercise. Swimming is low impact so even dogs with joint problems can do it. In addition, swimming provides a full body workout to stretch muscles and work the heart. However you decide to exercise your dog, be sure to stay within his limits and speak to your veterinarian if you are concerned about his ability to partake in new exercise.