We believe at Advanced Pet Care Clinic that they should be treated just like any other family member. For this reason, one of the things I enjoy is educating pet owners on how to take care of their pets to help them to live longer, happier lives. Your role as a pet parent is essential in maintaining your dog’s fitness. As April is National Canine Fitness Month, this is the perfect time to help educate and remind everyone how to keep their dogs active and fit.
Research shows canine fitness has been affected by the pandemic.
We have seen a rise in pet obesity over the years. But just as the pandemic impacted our lives, it has negatively affected pets in many cases too. Recent research provided by Hills Pet Nutrition Company reveals that Covid-19 has intensified the pet obesity issue. They found that:
- A third of owners with overweight pets say their pets specifically gained weight during 2020.
- Owners with overweight dogs were more likely to report the pandemic affected their pets’ weight.
- A third of dog owners have problems encouraging their pets to exercise.
- Twenty percent of pet owners admitted to giving pets more treats.
- Overweight pets were more likely to be bored or needy, owners reported.
Poor fitness can lead to the “perfect storm.”
Are you allowing your dog to eat too many calories, too many treats, and be lazy? We know no one intentionally means this to happen. Perhaps this last year, your lifestyle changed, and this has changed your dog’s habits. Working from home could lead to dogs receiving more treats than they should. For reasons such as these, we remind dog owners that canines can suffer from diseases and injuries if they become overweight or obese. If you have an overweight pet, you are not alone. In the United States, 50 – 60% of dogs are overweight or obese. An overweight or obese condition can put too much stress on the organs. You may see the effects of the damage with diseases such as:
Secondly, obesity in dogs puts too much stress on their joints and ligaments. This condition can result in disease or injuries such as:
Also, be aware that if an obese dog suffers an injury to one knee, obesity increases the chance of damage to the other knee. The reason is that the dog will put more weight and stress on the other good knee to compensate for the injured knee.
But there are some steps you can take to improve your dog’s health and fitness.
How to Improve Your Canine’s Fitness
- Exercise your dog. We recommend getting your dog out for walks at least three times a week and for minimally 20-minute sessions. But, if you have not been exercising your dog, take it slow at the start. Don’t exercise your dog intensively only one or two times a week; otherwise, your dog can get injured, especially ligament tears in their knees. Well-conditioned dogs are less likely to be injured than dogs that lounge around most of the time and only exercised on weekends.
- Monitor your dog’s weight. If you cannot weigh your dog regularly, you can use the chart below as a visual guide.
- Talk to us about your pet’s diet. It helps to know how many calories your pet should be eating to control your pet’s weight. We can help you with this if you are not sure.
- Limit Treats. We understand that it is tempting to give your pet treats as a form of love, especially when they look at you with such soulful eyes. Or, you feel guilty when you don’t have enough time to give them attention. But it will do more damage in the long run. We recommend you only use treats as rewards during training.
- Feed a healthy diet. There are many ads for all types of canine diets. We realize it can be confusing how to pick the right one. Again, talk to us about what diet we recommend for your dog. It is essential to read labels. We can advise you on what ingredients to avoid in pet foods that can cause weight gain.
Announcing Our New Rehabilitation Services!
We are very excited about the addition of our new rehabilitation space to deliver rehab services! We service all types of patients. Some are young with injuries or post-surgical issues. Others are older animals that may have neurological issues or back problems. We can treat geriatric patients and arthritic patients using this new facility.
Our goal is to provide comprehensive care for pets, including alternative therapies. I am the only veterinarian in Cedar Falls, Iowa that is a certified veterinarian chiro practitioner and a canine rehabilitation therapist. Our rehabilitation services include:
Underwater Treadmill Therapy
Comprehensive Musculoskeletal Exams
Canine Laser Therapy
We know you want the best for your pet. You can help your dog stay healthy and fit by following the above tips and bringing them in to see us for yearly exams. Play it safe when you exercise them. Realize they can get injured just like we can if they go too quickly from a sedentary life to rigorous exercise.
Dr. Tammy Stevenson, D.V.M.