We all know the importance of exercise and a sensible diet for
our own health, but we don't always realise the same applies to our
pets. Balancing the nutritional requirements of our pets with a
suitable level of exercise according to their fitness is the key to
success. Taking your dog out for at least two walks a day will help
maintain their fitness and keep them occupied. After all it's not
just physical but also mental stimulation that they need.
Remember - exercise should be started at the level your dog can
cope with that won't risk injuring him or her. Build up the
quantity and intensity of exercise as they get fitter. If your dog
has a medical condition such as arthritis, heart disease and so on,
speak to your vet regarding a suitable exercise programme.
1. Feeding factors
Below are listed some of the factors that should be considered
when considering starting a weight loss programme:
- What type of food is being fed?
- How much is being fed?
- How often is it being fed eg. ad-lib vs. once daily or twice
- How many and what type of treats/leftovers does the dog
- Who usually feeds the dog - one person or several (resulting in
accidental double rations!)?
2. Exercise Factors
Less active owners generally have less active dogs. Maximising
the amount of calories expended during exercise is vital for a
weight loss programme. A lot depends on the type and duration of
exercise. The take home message regarding exercise is
that the prevalence of obesity declines in proportion
to the duration of daily exercise. If you are exercising
little and often, try extending it to longer and often.
3. Weighing your dog
Visiting your vet
You should regularly keep track of your dog's weight to ensure
that it is healthy. If you are unsure about the desired weight of
your breed then just ask your vet. If you are going to embark on an
exercise programme with your dog it is always a good idea to get
your dog seen by your vet first. He or she will be able to advise
whether your dog has any conditions that mean that certain types of
exercise are not suitable.
If you are starting the Kennel Club's Get Fit With Fido
Challenge it is required that you have a note of your dog's
starting weight (it may be that your dog's weight is just right and
if you are giving it more exercise you may need to up its calorie
Weighing at home
You may want to keep track of your dog's weight in between
visits to your vet.
If you have a small dog then you can do this at home. To weigh a
small dog first weigh yourself then weigh the dog while you hold it
and subtract the difference from your combined weight. Use a
reliable set of scales such as digital scales or old fashioned
magnet-type scales which don't have digital readouts.
Last of all (and vitally important) is to keep a chart of the
dog's weight. You can use your Get Fit With Fido record card (link
to this in tools) to keep track of your dog's weight over time. Ask
your veterinarian how much your dog should weigh according to the
dog's activity level, fitness and age.
Top tips to bear in mind when exercising
- The importance of providing the right kind of exercise
for your dog
- Water - make sure your dog is
- Weather - In the summer try to avoid
intensive exercise during the hottest period of the day
- Dogs on leads - If you are walking your
dog then remember to keep it on a lead in places where there are
- Warm up and down
- Clean up after your dog - Responsible dog
owners have an obligation to clean up after their dogs so ensure
that you keep poo bags with you at all times.