Rocky’s Viewpoint

Rockys Viewpoint

A blog for people who treat their dogs better than family

Getting Your Dog in Shape in 2017

How is your dog’s health? Is there room for improvement?

If so, why not make it a priority in 2017 to get your dog into better shape? With 54% of all dogs either overweight or obese, many people can benefit from helping their dogs lose weight and improve their fitness levels.

It’s a fact that lean, fit dogs live an average of 2 years longer and have a better quality of life than dogs who are overweight. Studies also show that dogs who continue to exercise into their golden years age more slowly and are healthier than dogs who don’t.

So how do you get started with an exercise program for your dog? Here are some suggestions.

Is he young or older? Thin or overweight? Used to being active or not? Does he have any health problems that might prevent certain activities?

After you look at his overall health, you’ll have a better idea whether you need a vet checkup prior to starting an exercise program. If your dog has spent most of his life as a couch potato, or is older, overweight or has other health concerns, a vet checkup is a good idea.

This will depend on a number of factors, including your dog’s age, breed (or predominant breed) and physical condition. For example, if your dog is a senior, a goal could be to reduce pain, or to build or maintain muscle mass to help keep your dog mobile. Consider all aspects of health – strength, flexibility, endurance and mental stimulation – when creating your goal.

Learn what types of exercises will help. For example, if your senior dog needs to lose weight, have him swim as often as possible. Swimming your dog is an ideal form of exercise because it works the entire body and is non-weight bearing. Often, overweight dogs also have joint pain or arthritis and can’t do enough land based exercise to take the weight off. If you don’t know where to start, speak to a canine fitness professional for advice.

Depending on your dog, allow at least 20 to 30 minutes a day. If you don’t have time to do what’s required, hire a dog walker, a canine fitness professional, or find a doggie daycare that places a priority on proper exercise and has fitness professionals on staff. Also look into organized activities that you both may enjoy, such as agility classes.

This is especially important if you are just beginning a program. Reduce exercise time and/or intensity if necessary. Just as with humans, dogs who haven’t exercised regularly need time to build up strength and endurance.

At a minimum, you’ll want to record the date, activity (or activities) you did, and time or mileage length. If your goal is to lose weight or build muscle, you can record weight and measurements. Find a system that works for you, whether it’s just a log handwritten in a notebook, or entering data into a spreadsheet. Agility courses help to keep a dog in shape.

Make a new or renewed commitment to your dog in 2017. Give him the gift of health. With proper nutrition and the right amount and type of exercise, you’ll be helping your best friend live a longer, healthier and happier life!