Preventing Obesity in Dogs

A trim figure is fundamental to good health for dogs. Statistically, lean dogs live longer than their chunkier buddies and have fewer health problems.Overweight dogs are more likely to develop pancreatitis, diabetes, heart disease, and joint pain. If the pounds have snuck on (if you can’t clearly see your dog’s waist), consult your veterinarian about any underlying problems that can contribute to weight gain and the correct amount to feed your dog. Then get serious about increasing your dog’s exercise level. Keeping up the activity level is advisable even if your dog is in great shape—one of the best things you can do for your dog’s long-term health is to prevent future weight problems.

Get the amount right. Exercise needs vary with age, breed, size, and overall health, but a good rule of thumb is for your dog to spend between thirty minutes and two hours being active every day. Collies, retrievers, and shepherds need lots of running time; Bulldogs and Dachshunds can thrive with moderate daily outings.

Change it up. Don’t limit your thinking on dog exercise to walks and throwing a ball at the park. Sign up for a fun dog class or activity like rally-o, flyball, nose work, or agility. Find a local dog group so your dog gets to play with other dogs regularly (if she enjoys canine company, of course). Or, if time is a problem, consider hiring a dog walker or joining a doggie daycare.

Ramp it up at home. Playing hide-and-seek, figuring out a puzzle toy, and practicing training cues and show-stopping tricks for the next party are just some of the at-home undertakings that increase your dog’s overall activity level. Five minutes here, ten minutes there; it all adds up to a healthier, happier dog.