Alison Laurie- Chalmers, Senior Consultant, Crown Vets Inverness
If you’re struggling to find the motivation to get fit after Christmas, here is some advice on how you can combine caring for your dog with your own New Year’s resolution for fitness campaign.
Think of it a combined effort for you and your dog. Your dog is always pleased to see you and he is usually very keen for a walk. Here you have a loyal companion to accompany you on your walk or run, and you will find that inspiration to go that bit further because you know that exercise is also helping your pet too. We can spend some quality time with our pets out on a brisk walk and exercise helps their physical and mental health, and it’s really good for owners too.
Taking your own, or a friend’s, dog for a walk costs nothing and it is also fun and very rewarding. Regular exercise together also helps to ensure a closer bond between owner and dog, which can in turn have a great positive impact on everyone’s well-being and also assists with their training. Regular walking is a great way to keep fit and in turn improving fitness levels and losing weight also combats the well-known health risks that can come with being overweight in both dogs and humans, such as Diabetes, Cardio-respiratory disease, Liver and Pancreatic disease and Joint disease.
Make sure that your dog is fit enough to start having more exercise and go for a brisk walk or a run. If your dog is elderly or infirm, then you continue with your usual exercise regime. If your dog is very overweight then start any extra exercise very gradually along with a concurrent, new, strict diet regime.
If your dog is fit and is able do that extra mile then do an extra added circuit around the local park or go that bit further on your usual country walks.
Also think toys and exercise, not extra treats. You do not always have to constantly reward any good behaviour or those big soulful eyes with extra treats. Some new toys that a dog can play with and have fun and exercise with are far healthier than calorific treats.
Join a dog walking club or group, there are plenty dog walking clubs that can arrange routes for pre-planned arranged walks, this also offers company for you and your dog.
Feed the right diet; make sure that your dog’s daily diet is right for its breed, type, size, age, and lifestyle. Do be very careful with daily amounts of food and don't over feed him. Always feed the advised daily amounts only and avoid giving him extra additional dog "treats" and avoid high calorie "human foods". Do accurately weigh out his daily advised amount of his dog food and take some of this aside for any planned “rewards”.
A lot of dogs have to be on advised, prescription diets for health reasons for example pancreatitic and diabetic dogs, and also dogs that are on strict weight loss diets for health reasons. Don't give treats to dogs “just because” as these “treats” may actually be very harmful for their on-going good health.
If you are in any doubt about your own pet’s health, his exercise regime or his correct diet, please contact the practice for a thorough health check and for good professional advice on his weight, correct diet and fitness.
Have a very Happy and Healthy New Year!