Obesity in dogs is not only an aesthetic problem, but a significant health problem from which too many dogs suffer (about 60% of dogs). As in humans, the obesity epidemic is spreading due to lifestyle changes: moving to an urban environment, less exercise and an abundance of rich and available food.
But there is one significant difference between obesity in humans and the corresponding phenomenon in dogs: we humans have the freedom to choose what and how much we eat and how much exercise is done. Dogs, on the other hand, do not have the freedom to act as they wish. We own and control them and therefore we have a moral responsibility towards them, to provide them with conditions that will allow them to live a healthy and enjoyable life in a normal physical condition.
Most of us take this responsibility seriously when it comes to choosing a food and even limiting its quantity. But, too many people neglect their dog’s need for daily exercise.
Exercise is essential not only for maintaining a proper caloric balance, but also for maintaining joint health, cardio-pulmonary endurance and more. In addition, energy expenditure is essential for the dog’s mental state. Dogs that do not expend enough energy may suffer from boredom manifested in behavioral disorders, especially destructive behaviors.
The need for exercise differs from dog to dog, but there are some rules of thumb that can help plan your dog’s activity:
1. Health condition – If your dog suffers from a known disease, consult your veterinarian about possible limitations. If during exercise the dog shows signs of distress and / or lameness, stop the activity immediately and take the dog to a veterinary clinic for urgent medical examination./p>
2. If you have a dog of a medium breed or older, it is recommended to avoid vigorous exercise immediately after eating. There is a phenomenon known as “stomach upset” which can occur in dogs that run around immediately after a meal when their stomachs are full of food. The dog’s stomach sits inside the rib cage, hanging horizontally between the esophagus and the entrance to the small intestine. When the dog runs in zig-zag movements over a full stomach, the stomach begins to sway like a pendulum and in a sharp turn it may make a complete reversal, thus creating a blockage at the entrance and exit of the stomach, a life-threatening emergency. Therefore, you should divide the daily amount of food into at least two meals and avoid vigorous exercise immediately after a meal.
3. The amount of activity required per day depends on various factors, especially the dog breed. The recommended duration of activity per day is between 30 and 120 minutes. Below is a key of recommended durations for daily activities by race:
Hiking, even with a leash, is considered an effective exercise. Running with the dog is even more recommended, and if possible, you should find opportunities to release the dog from the leash in the dog park and allow him to run and play with other dogs, always under supervision and in accordance with the law. For people who have difficulty providing the dog with adequate activity, it is advisable to hire a dog walker.
It is important to remember that although increasing physical activity is always recommended, there will be no weight change if we compensate for burning calories with overeating. With sports comes appetite, so it is recommended to combine increased exercise with foods that support weight loss. Low-calorie foods for urban dogs provide all the nutritional needs with fewer calories and fat relative to the percentage of protein they contain. It contributes to the feeling of satiety, accelerates weight loss and in dogs that have already reached the destination, Lite food contributes to maintaining success.
In conclusion, owning a dog is a great responsibility and it is our duty to provide the dog with the right conditions to maintain physical activity according to his needs combined with an adapted diet.