Sunday, January 24, 2010

Exercise - Health - Diet

The National Academy of Sciences reports that one out of every four dogs in the western world is now overweight.

Obese dogs are more prone to almost every major illness (diabetes, cancer, heart disease, respiratory disease and digestive troubles) Lean dogs tend to live longer.

Exercise can improve your dog's physical and mental health, but it is important to find the best exercise routine for you and your dog. Here are some workout tips for dogs:
  • Consider your dog's age, health, condition and current activity level. Check with a vet before beginning anything vigorous.
  • Make sure to keep your dog on a leash at all times when you are exercising in public. You don't want your dog to get distracted by cars, people or other dogs.
  • Letting your dog out in your backyard doesn't qualify as exercise; however, a good game of fetch may do the trick.
  • When exercising your dog, try to keep it on a grassy or earth surface. A hot sidewalk or sharp gravel surface is hard on a dog's paws. Always remember to bring along clean water and a portable bowl so you can offer your dog a drink if needed.
  • Stop exercising immediately if your dog begins to pant too rapidly. Dogs can suffer from heat stroke, so make sure your dog is not overexerting itself.
  • Pay special attention to your dog's footpads and toenails. If there are any abrasions or cuts, stop exercising until they have completely healed.
  • When starting your dog on any exercise program, begin slowly to build up its endurance level; too vigorous a workout may cause injury.

A good long walk with intermittent jogging or stopping to play a little fetch is excellent - in the wild a dog will walk at a good pace for hours, then maybe chase an animal, then go back to the 'dog walk' or rest for a while - it's OK to take a break!

What about diet?

Diet plays a huge role - this should not surprise you. One of the main benefits of feeding fresh, home prepared diets is that your dog will naturally lose excess weight (takes several weeks) and naturally find his/her true weight. Most home-preparers discover that all the paunchy fat disappears, the dog's shape will actually change as fat dissolves and muscle builds. You will also notice that your dog smells great, a clean, fresh, natural smell comes from the fur, skin, ears and mouth - it's really amazing. Fresh food dogs move around more because their energy level increases! The 'living energy' of the fresh food (impossible with any kibble) is transferred to the cells of the dog - remember, the food becomes the dog - we cannot stress this enough as a benefit of home prepared meals.