One of our everyday rituals as pet parents is walking our dogs. Most dogs love to walk, sniff, run around therein staying fit and helping us to stay active as well. However, just like with some humans, dogs can also become overweight, and reasons could be many. So, how to exercise overweight dogs who may not be fans of long walks, leave aside trotting?
Before answering that question let’s first understand how obesity can impact a dog’s wellbeing.
According to American Kennel Club, “Certain breeds will be affected more than others by even the slightest weight gain, so it’s important to maintain your dog’s fitness throughout his [her] entire life. Also, you want to make sure your dog does not have any underlying health or metabolic conditions such as hypothyroidism, which might be making him or her overweight.”
Overweight dogs can be prone to several health issues including but not limited to breathing issues, diabetes, joint and back problems and even arthritis [mostly in senior dogs].
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Build a regular walk routine
If you’re not doing it already, walk your dogs regularly and follow a routine. Start by walking slowly and shorter distances. Its wrong to expect an overweight dog to start hiking suddenly. A good start would be to walk them on a grassy patch for a short period of time and increase the intensity gradually. Its best to not exert your dogs by pushing them to run to avoid any potential injury.
Monitor your dog’s breathing
In overweight dogs the fat in the chest might prevent their lungs from expanding fully causing difficulty in breathing. So, if your dog is struggling to breathe instead of pushing them to keep walking take short breaks. Offer them water, let them rest and then continue.
Use the right accessories
Collars may not be a great option for overweight dogs which may cause pressure on their trachea. This can cause breathing difficulty. Using a sturdy body harness with a lead might be a better option.
Make exercising fun
A great way to help your dogs loose weight while having fun is to plan a set of exercises that will facilitate mental stimulation and help them build a bond with you. Agility training with not-so-difficult obstacle courses can be a good start. However, always be aware of your dog’s body language to not over-exert them.
Consider low impact alternatives
For overweight dogs, especially senior dogs, vigorous exercising might add to their already sore joints. A good alternative is hydrotherapy. Low impact exercises as part of hydrotherapy help dogs to burn extra calories while warm water supports reduction of joint pain.
Consult a veterinarian
Importantly, carefully evaluate your dog’s diet which is almost always at the heart of issues related to obesity. Offer them treats as rewards but only sparingly.
As with everything before creating a diet or exercise schedule for your overweight dogs consult a veterinarian.
This article is for information purposes only and should not be treated as medical opinion.