According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), lean dogs outlive their fatter brothers and sisters by an average of about two years. But not only do we cost them years of their lives when we don’t take care of their health, they also cost us more money in dog food and vet bills. If we want our dogs to live longer and happier lives, it’s time we start taking care of their fitness needs.
What Kind of Exercise Does Your Dog Need?
All dogs need some physical activity, but believe it or not, different breeds need different levels. For example, breeds like bulldogs, pugs, and pekingese are intolerant to rigorous activity. They need to be kept cool and exercised at a slower pace than others. Indoor activity under air conditioning in the summer is best. Other dogs are going to need a lot of exercise. If you’ve got an active breed, you may want to bring your pup to a dog park to really get them running around. Be sure to remain alert at all times and watch for signs of aggressiveness (by other dogs or your dog). Consult with your veterinarian if you’re not sure what type of exercise is right for your dog.
Schedule Exercise Time
If you just squeeze in a walk with your dog here and there when you’re not busy, your pooch might be missing out on the activity they need. Most dogs need about 30 minutes of exercise a day, so schedule it just like you would any other appointment. And if you just can’t find the time to do it yourself, consider hiring a dog walker. They usually don’t charge much, and your dog could also get some play time with other neighborhood pets.
Let’s face it — most of us really have no idea how much we are supposed to be feeding our pets. We just put food in their bowls until they seem full, or go by some vague measurements we read somewhere. But you should be measuring their food out according to their healthy weight goals. It’s not difficult to find this information online, but if you are having trouble deciding on the right amount, talk to your vet.
Some dogs, especially active breeds, have a tendency to become dehydrated. If they are not getting enough to drink, you might notice dry mouth, lots of panting, sunken eyes, and even loose skin. In the summer especially, your dog needs more fluids. So, be sure to keep their water bowl full at all times, and maybe put out a bigger bowl during the hotter months of the year. And if you notice any of these signs, you can pour some Pedialyte in their water bowl once in a while. Just like with kids, it will quickly replace electrolytes and minerals your dog may be losing.
Lots of people never think to wash their dogs’ water and food bowls, but bacteria can grow in them just like any other dish. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that E. coli and salmonella can be lurking there in leftover food particles. To keep them clean, wash them with hot, soapy water daily, and then with a bleach solution once a week. Dishwashers can still leave some bacteria behind, so don’t rely solely on them for disinfecting.
In order to keep your dog alive and healthy as long as you can, it’s important to take steps now to get and keep your furry friend in shape. Exercise and healthy eating habits will ensure that your dog stays in the appropriate weight range and gives them the quality of life they deserve. Make sure you are reading labels on dog food, feeding appropriate amounts, and giving the correct amount of exercise for size and breed. It’s not difficult to make modifications, and it is certainly worth it in the long run!