Food and fitness in dogs

What you feed your dog and how much of it you feed will impact the dog’s level of fitness.  Simply stated, do not allow your dog to become overweight.  You must fight the urge to choose your dog’s food based solely upon price and instead base the decision on a food’s quality in conjunction with what you can afford to sustain.  If you do nothing else to improve your dog’s fitness, choose a high quality, meat-based food and avoid feeding your dog too much.  You have total control over what your dog eats; that’s a big responsibility and it impacts the dog’s physical fitness every single day.

It is best not to just assume a dog is in good condition or fit.  Have the dog checked out by your veterinarian to be sure the dog is healthy enough to participate in an exercise program.  Most experts feel that a 30-minute routine four times a week is sufficient for a dog of normal health, although daily is even better if you have that much time to give.  A few examples of these types of exercise are jogging, biking, hiking, roller-blading, cross-country skiing, playing fetch, plus many more.  The dog can run with the owner during some of these types of activities, but for safety reasons, keep in mind the need for leash restraint.

You have several options. You can either break your routine into two 15-minute sessions, or, if you and your pet are up to it, you can do the full 30 minutes all at once.

Simple exercise options that work:

Play a vigorous game of fetch.

Go for a long walk

Go for a jog.

Play a wild game of chase.

If you have a water-loving breed, such as a Retriever, go swimming. (Swimming is an excellent source of exercise as dogs grow older, as there is minimal impact on joints and consequently fewer aches and pains)

Other types of fitness activities:  Obedience training /agility exercises or competitions that are fun and provide mental and physical stimulation.  Even something as simple as a walk around the block every day will have a beneficial health impact on you and your dog.

The benefits you will experience for a regular exercise routine are endless:   Pets who have had their bodies and their minds stimulated by regular play tend to exhibit problem behaviors less frequently.

Your dog will be gaining social skills by interacting with you regularly.   The bond between you and your dog will be strengthened, creating an even happier home life for you both.   You will get exercise right alongside your pet.   Your dog’s health will be improved so that he/she can live a longer, healthier life.

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