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Tips for New Year Fitness

Tips on Keeping your Pet, and yourself, Fit in the New Year

If you’re struggling to find the motivation to get fit after the Christmas, festive overindulgences. Here are some tips on how you can combine caring for your dog with your own New Year resolution fitness campaign. 

It can be a thought to get out of bed early on a cold, dark winters morning to take the dog out. One thing to remember, particularly if you are struggling with a New Year’s resolution to get fit yourself, is that that extra little bit of effort is well worth it, for you and for your dog.  

Your dog is always happy and pleased to see you, and he is usually very keen for a walk. So, you already have an amiable, loyal, loving companion to accompany you on your walk or run. Also, you will find that much needed inspiration to go that little bit further, because you know that the exercise is helping your pet too. By spending some quality time with our pets out on a walk the exercise looks after their physical and mental health, and it is good for us owners too. Regular exercise has been proven to be beneficial for our physical and mental health, and this also applies to our pet dogs too. Taking a dog for a walk or run costs nothing, and it is fun and can be very rewarding. A brisk walk together helps regularly train your pet, and also aids in creating a closer bond between owner and dog, which can have a great positive impact on everyone’s wellbeing. Keeping fit and losing weight also combats the well-known health risks that can come with being overweight, such as Diabetes, Cardio-respiratory disease, and Joint disease. 

Here are some tips for improving your dog's and your own fitness:  

Firstly, do make sure that yourself and your dog are fit enough to start having some more exercise. If your dog is elderly or infirm, then continue with your usual exercise regime, perhaps gently adding in an extra couple of little, short walks. If your dog is very overweight, always start extra exercise gradually, along with a new healthy and advised weight management and diet regime. 

If your dog is fit and able do that extra mile, do an extra circuit around the local park, or go a bit further on your usual country walks, remembering that your dog should always be on a lead in countryside when there is any livestock around. 

You could also research and try some new walks and explore. Dogs love any new “territory” for walks and all the excitement and smells around, and it is also healthy for you too, to broaden your exploring horizons! 

Think verbal praise and “good dog” toys, and do not always praise through constant, abundant treats!  You do not always have to reward all your pet’s good behaviour with treats. Praise, or a new toy that a dog can play with and get fun and exercise from can be as much of a reward and get that tail wagging as energetically as any treats can. Also, rotate their toys regularly so that they don’t get bored will the usual ones, and they think they have a newfound toy each week. 

Join a dog walking club or arrange a regular group “doggie walk” with friends, which can be fun for all.  

Get the right and appropriate diet for your pet. Make sure that your dog’s diet is correct, for breed, size, age, and lifestyle. Feed your dog the correct amounts and do not be tempted to overfeed. Do avoid giving extra, as this just adds to his daily calorie intake, and will eventually cause obesity. Always weigh out the daily advised amount of food and, if needed, take some of this total advised amount out and keep aside for any treat rewards.  

Many pets have notably gained weight over the recent three Covid restriction years. A healthier pet is one that is carrying less excess weight. From a medical perspective the benefits of weight loss include: an improved metabolism, improved oxygenation, and an improved mobility and overall on-going a much-improved general health. Overweight pets are at a higher risk of developing diabetes, osteoarthritis, heart, and liver disease, and sadly, some forms of cancer.  

Help your beloved pet have a happy and healthy New Year and years ahead by endeavouring to keep him trim and in good shape. Weight reduction can increase your pet's life expectancy by several years, and improve his quality of life.  

As well as your pet's actual weight also keep a keen eye on your pet’s general shape. It might sound simple, but as we see our pets every day, it’s easy to not notice extra inches creeping on over time. There is a real misconception about what a healthy dog shape is. Our pet’s shape is an excellent sign of whether there are at a healthy weight. The term for this is “body condition scoring”.  A body condition score of a 5/9, with a slim silhouette and no excess fat, is the ideal, healthy, trim goal.  

If you are in any doubt about your pet’s health, exercise regime or a correct diet and weight, do contact your Vet clinic for a thorough health check, and for good professional advice. Ask for advice on appropriate diets and amounts and set your pet a target weight in three months as a goal.  

If you would like advice on how you can safely and healthily reduce your pet’s weight, then please do phone your Vet for a weight -check appointment in the New Year. These weight clinics are generally run by the Vet Nurses who will give you plenty friendly advice and encouragement, and will help you assist your pet towards a healthier weight, and a better quality of life. 

Wishing you all and your lovely pets a Happy and Healthy New Year ahead in 2023!  

Alison Laurie-Chalmers
Senior Consultant
Crown Vets

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