Pine Creek Animal Hospital’s team of veterinarians, technicians, and staff strive to give your pet the best medical care we can. Your pet’s fitness is our passion! Your role as a pet parent is essential in maintaining your dog’s fitness. And as April is National Canine Fitness Month, we want to educate and remind everyone to keep their dogs active and fit.
Canine fitness has been affected by the pandemic.
Not only has the pandemic affected our lives, but it has impacted canine fitness as well. Recent research provided by Hills Pet Nutrition Company reveals that Covid-19 has intensified obesity in pets. Here is what they found:
A third of owners with overweight pets say their pets specifically gained weight during 2020.
Owners with overweight dogs were more likely to report the pandemic affected their pets’ weight.
A third of dog owners have problems encouraging their pets to exercise.
Twenty percent of pet owners admitted to giving pets more treats.
Overweight pets were more likely to be bored or needy, owners reported.
Don’t let your dog become a statistic of poor canine fitness.
Has your dog been gaining weight since the pandemic? If your answer is yes, you are not alone. In the United States, 50 – 60% of dogs are overweight or obese. Lifestyles changes due to the pandemic could be the culprit. For example, pet owners being home more can lead to pets getting more scraps from the table or extra treats. It is not uncommon for some pet owners to give dog treats to pets when they are too busy to pay attention to them.
Whatever the cause, poor canine fitness can set your dog up for the perfect storm. An overweight condition or obesity can bring on a host of diseases and problems for your canine companions.
These conditions put too much stress on the organs. You may see the effects of the damage with the onset of diseases such as:
- Heart Disease
- Liver Disease
Also, obesity in dogs puts too much stress on their joints and ligaments. This condition can result in disease or injuries such as:
- Knee Injuries
Additionally, when an obese dog suffers an injury to one knee, obesity increases the chance of damage to the other knee. The reason is that the dog will put more weight and stress on the other good knee to compensate for the injured knee.
6 Tips to Improve Your Canine’s Fitness
- Exercise your dog. We recommend getting your dog out for walks at least three times a week and for minimally 20-minute sessions. But, if you have not been exercising your dog, take it slow at the start. Don’t exercise your dog intensively only one or two times a week; otherwise, your dog can get injured, especially ligament tears in their knees. Well-conditioned dogs are less likely to be injured than dogs that lounge around most of the time and only exercised on weekends.
- Spend some time training your dog. A little enrichment goes a long way! Did you know that mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise? You can turn your dog’s keen sense of smell and love of sniffing into an activity you can do together. There is not much stimulation for a dog to repeatedly run and chase a ball. Here are some tips from Modern Dog of activities you can do with your dog to provide them with mental stimulation.
- Monitor your dog’s weight. If you cannot weigh your dog regularly, you can use the chart below as a visual guide.
- Talk to us about your pet’s diet. It helps to know how many calories your pet should be eating to control your pet’s weight. We can help you with this if you are not sure.
- Limit Treats. We understand that it is tempting to give your pet treats as a form of love, especially when they look at you with such soulful eyes. Or, you feel guilty when you don’t have enough time to give them attention. But it will do more damage in the long run. We recommend you only use treats as rewards during training.
- Feed a healthy diet. There are many ads for all types of canine diets. We realize it can be confusing how to pick the right one. Again, talk to us about what diet we recommend for your dog. It is essential to read labels. We can advise you on what ingredients to avoid in pet foods that can cause weight gain.
It can be very tempting to show our pets our love by giving them treats. However, the best love you can give your dog is to keep them healthy and fit by following the above tips and bringing them in to see us for yearly exams. Play it safe when you exercise them. Realize they can get injured just like we can if they go too quickly from a sedentary life to rigorous exercise. And, keep in mind that dogs need mental stimulation too!
We are here to help you with any medical attention your canine friend may need. Contact us if you have any concerns about your pet’s health or need to schedule an appointment.
Dr. Ashley Tuma