Similar to the rise in obesity among humans, dogs can also suffer from the epidemic. Poor diet, excessive rewarding, and a lack of physical activity can be detrimental to the health of your pup. Aside from joint pain and difficulty breathing, obese dogs are more susceptible to canine diabetes and cancer. Fortunately, it's easy for dog owners to help their pets avoid these health issues. Playing outdoors and engaging your pet in motion is simple - and fun! April is Canine Fitness Month, so we've put together a guide to keeping your dog happy and healthy this spring.
- Take a hike! Walking is one of the easiest ways for your canine to exercise. You and your dog will enjoy all of the health benefits walking has to offer, like combating heart disease and strengthening bones and muscles. Whether you plan a day on the trail or take a brisk walk through your neighborhood, bring your dog with you to keep them physically active.
- Participate in active play. Throwing a ball, stick, or toy around an open field is a great way for your dog to work some cardio into their routine. While playing indoors is physical for your pet, playing with them in the great outdoors is a better, more effective way of encouraging more physical activity. If your dog can fetch, head to a local dog park and toss a ball around. Additionally, playing outside can tap into your dogs curiosity, encouraging them to explore the world that surrounds them and ultimately stay active longer.
- Use the right toys. Broaden the types of activities you and your pet can participate in by investing in toys designed to be used in the water and a life vest for your dog. Regardless of their ability to swim, a life vest adds an additional level of assurance that your dog will be okay romping in and out of the water. If you anticipate being outdoors for a long stretch of time, bring a portable water bowl for your pup to rehydrate during activities.
- Make them work for treats. Instead of rewarding your pet on occasion, hide their daily allotment of treats outside. This turns it into a game for your pet, sharpening their cognitive ability to find food. Hide treats under toys, around outdoor furnishings, or throughout your yard and have your dog hunt for them.
- Monitor sun exposure. Like people, dogs can get sunburn! Never leave your dog outback in the sun for too long, and always provide your pup with shaded areas to cool down in. An older dog or dog with thicker hair should be limited as to the amount of sun they get. Instead, get their fitness in during the early morning or late evening hours when the sun isn't as strong.
Remember to check with your veterinarian before engaging your pet in physical activity. Keep these tips in mind, and have a happy and healthy spring with your dog!