If you’re one of those dog owners who love to spoil their pet with tasty leftovers and table scraps, bear in mind that overweight dogs suffer many of the same problems that plague obese humans. High blood pressure, cancer, and kidney disease are all possibilities if you’ve allowed your pooch to pack on the pounds. Dogs need a healthy diet, as recommended by your veterinarian, and 30 minutes a day of exercise to thrive and be healthy. And if your idea of dog exercise is opening the back door, think again. Dogs need to work their muscles and their heart to keep the weight off, just as humans do. It requires your buy-in and a commitment to maintain a healthy regimen to make sure your furry friend will be fit and trim for many happy years.
Ask your veterinarian how many calories per day your dog should get in order to stay in shape. It should be based on factors like age, weight, and level of activity. A dog that gets a lot of exercise can be fed more than one that’s not as active. Stick to dog food recommended by your vet. In general, it’s a good idea to steer away from foods and dog treats that are high in artificial colors, high-fructose corn syrup, or sugar. If you're unsure about what to feed your dog, you can learn more about the difference between real food and dog food here. Above all, don’t give your pet people food or allow him to beg at the table. Eating people food is a leading cause of obesity in dogs and also can cause an array of other health problems. Measuring the portions you give your pet, based on his weight and lifestyle, can also help him maintain a healthy weight. Try different dog foods if your dog isn’t reacting well or if it’s causing him to be gassy or incontinent.
Regular exercise will keep your dog happy. Many dog owners enjoy the exercise and companionship of a daily after-dinner or early-morning walk with their pooches. If you’re looking for something a little more vigorous for your dog, check out the nearest dog park, where dogs can really stretch their legs and run if there’s a fenced-in area. If it’s difficult for you to get outdoors, consider investing in a dog treadmill so your pet can keep up with his daily exercise routine. Try going for a walk in the woods on a dog-walking path. Your pet will love the smells, sights, and sounds of the woods. Throw the frisbee, set up a tunnel using pillow cushions, or teach him to jump through hula hoops. If your dog spends a lot of time indoors, you can prevent accidents on your carpet or hardwood floors with DoggieLawn, an indoor dog potty made of REAL grass! By Africa Studio via Shutterstock
If it’s not possible for you to take your dog on regular walks, consider hiring a certified dog walker. Dog walking services can easily be found online these days, allowing you to conveniently find someone who’s nearby and qualified to make sure your pet gets plenty of fresh air and exercise. Certified services are fully insured and can be available to you within minutes.
Finding the right vet
Finding a veterinarian your dog likes and responds well to is very important to his ongoing health. If yours tends to prescribe expensive drugs and medications with unpleasant side effects, consider finding someone else. Talk to acquaintances at the dog park to see who they go to if you believe your vet is recommending unnecessary tests or treatments.
Keeping your dog happy and healthy takes a full-time commitment, involving proper diet, lots of exercise, and attention from you. If you don’t have time to walk your dog every day, consider finding a professional dog walker. You’ll be rewarded with a long, happy dog-owner friendship.