Fido, We Were Born to Run
The stats can be pretty depressing when it comes to obesity, both for human beings and their pooches. Two reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that around 38% of American adults are obese, and that efforts to lose weight are having little effect. Pet obesity is also on the rise, with the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention reporting that around 53% of dogs and 58% of cats are obese.
There is a way to get fit and firm up, and why not do so with your four footed friend? Follow these tips and you will soon be sporting a leaner, meaner physique (and so will Fido).
Run Like the Wind
Dogs are seemingly made to run, whenever they are of the appropriate age and fitness level. If you and your pooch haven’t been out and about in a long time, though, it’s best to start with a brisk walk, found in numerous studies to bust depression, reduce the risk of cancer and other diseases, and improve our heart health. When you’re brisk walking, make it clear to your dog that he shouldn’t ‘stop to smell the flowers’ too often. During exercise time, though, business is business. After your workout, feel free to take him to a dog park and let him off the leash, play fetch or frisbee, and let him enjoy the myriad of smells around him. Finally, rest is important; he should have a fantastic night’s sleep within the cosy interiors of his heavenly Bed Hug burrow blanket.
Picking Up Your Pace
Once you are both fitter, you can introduce short sprints into your routine and a bit later, you might try running. Before carrying out any intense exercise, see your vet about the length and appropriate intensity of exercise for your dog. Issues like age, health conditions, and breed will be relevant; any dog that is older or has heart issues should avoid strenuous exercise. Even if your dog has been given the okay by your vet, keep an eye out for his energy levels the day after your run. Sometimes, dogs show signs of lethargy or fatigue, an indicator that pace and time should be reduced. Additionally, be very vigilant for any injuries.
Make sure to warm up with around 10 minutes of fast walking before starting to run. For your first run, just five minutes should be fine. After around a week, add another five or ten minutes, but always let your dog be your guide. If you find he is slowing down and not as energetic, or showing signs of tiredness, stop running and walk home.
Always bring water to keep both you and your pooch hydrated. If your dog runs regularly, ask your vet about any appropriate diet changes. They may need more antioxidants and protein, but don’t make it a guessing game and obtain prior approval from your vet. Finally, make sure the surface you are running on won’t harm your dog’s paws. Check for things like temperature, roughness, etc.
Swimming in the Summer
During warm, sunny months, nothing is quite as appealing as going for a swim with your dog. Start him off gently, in a small pool, and ensure he is wearing a flotation vest. Place him just a few inches away from you in the water and ask him to swim to you, slowly increasing the distance as he starts growing confident. Complete a few laps then play ‘water fetch’ or simply get him to swim from one side of the pool to the other, where you are waiting for him. If you have a home pool, remember to keep it fenced at any time you are not using it yourself, since dogs can drown if unsupervised.
When it comes to improving human and canine fitness, feel free to be as creative as you like. So long as you approach fitness patiently, setting small rather than unrealistic goals, both you and your dog should enjoy the Great Outdoors immensely while working out. Whether swimming, walking, or running are your thing, speaking to your vet beforehand is important, to ensure that all your dog’s dietary and medical needs are met.