Canine Fitness Month
April is recognized as Canine Fitness Month. While we see spaying and neutering as the number one way to begin a healthy journey, here are some helpful tips to continue on that journey along with your furry friend.
If your dog has been living a mostly sedentary lifestyle, start slowly. Just like us, they need some time to build up their fitness. Keep an eye out for pain or exhaustion. A good way to break into a fitness regime is to start a walking routine. This is a good time to work on leash manners too. Not all dogs are in condition to run with their people, so if you’re a runner, don’t push your dog to be one too unless you are certain they are able to do so without pain. With that said, some dogs make great runners!
Walking your dog is about so much more than just “potty breaks.” Walking your dog provides mental stimulation, physical exercise, chances for socialization, and opportunities for behavioral training. Moreover, it gets both of you out and about while helping to grow the bond you have with your dog. Walking can be as good for humans as it can for dogs. Dog owners enjoy numerous health and social benefits by walking their dog a few times a week. Benefits include improved cardiovascular fitness, lower blood pressure, stronger muscles and bones (built up by walking regularly), and decreased stress. A regular walk is vitally important for your pet’s health too for those same reasons.
Fetch definitely counts! You don’t have to lace up your sneakers and clip on a leash to exercise your pup. Barefoot in the grass and a tasty beverage in one hand will work just fine for tossing a ball around the yard for 20 minutes.
Don’t forget diet! Fitness starts with nourished bodies and appropriate, high-quality calorie intake. Talk with your veterinarian about the food you feed your pet to make sure it is the right diet for their stage in life and activity level.
Be careful on hot days (remember those?). You’d be amazed at how easily heatstroke can happen, and the risk is higher in older pets. Keep them comfortable and hydrated, and be observant about any changes in recovery times or behavior on hot days.
Living in the PNW and think it’s too cold or rainy to get in a good walk? Lucky for all of us, we live in a time when doggie boots and coats (and other clothes) are available for dogs of every size. Maybe you can get matching coats and hit the great outdoors together!
How do you support your health alongside your dog?