Don’t Let Your Pet Get Obese! (Part 2 of 2)

Exercise Caution!
Without you to lead the way, your pet isn’t going to go for a brisk walk or run laps on its own! So it is part of your responsibility as a pet owner to ensure your pet gets to exercise safely on a regular basis.

Here are some precautions to take when exercising a pet dog:

– If your dog is overweight, take it to the veterinarian for a complete physical examination to assess its physical condition and general health, and prescribe a safe fitness regimen to get it back into shape.

– Like us, animals that are unfit or over-weight should start exercising a t a slower pace and gradually build up their fitness level to avoid sustaining injuries. It is a common misconception that dogs are built to run; however, like us, they are prone to muscle aches and joint pains too. Carry excess weight will also put additional strain on the heart, respiratory system and joints.

– Don’t run, bike or climb with your dog unless it is in tip-top shape. It is also advisable not to do so with young dogs below two years old as their bones are still in the developmental stage.

– Dogs can overheat easily because they do not perspire like us; and those with a thicker coat of fur are even more susceptible to this problem. So don’t overexert them – watch out for signs like excessive panting and lagging. Stop and rest if necessary. If the weather is hot, get it into the shade and give it water to drink.

– When you run on hard or hot surfaces, your feet are protected by shoes – your dog’s are not! So be mindful about this, otherwise, its feet can get hurt.

– If you think your dog is up for greater challenges, you could even consider signing it up for dog training or agility classes.

Exercise not only benefits your pet’s health, but is also a good way for it to release some of its pent-up nervous energy, which could cause it to wreak havoc around the house! Exercising with your pet is also a great way for you to bond with each other.

Source: The Sunday Times, April 28, 2013 Pets Corner
Written by Sheila Lim

Don’t Let Your Pet Get Obese! (Part 1 of 2)

Dogs and cats that are 10 to 20 per cent above their ideal body weight are considered obese. Obesity can lead to various health problems, or worsen existing ailments. And as a result, it can reduce both the length and quality of a pet’s life.

Some potentially serious medical conditions associated with obesity in pets include high blood pressure, heart, kidney and respiratory diseases, arthritis, skin diseases, diabetes mellitus and cancers. Obese pets may find difficulty in exercising as they are prone to respiratory problems or heat stroke because of their excessive weight.

Besides overfeeding, there are several other factors that can cause a pet to become obese:

Breed: Certain breeds have a higher propensity of becoming obese than others due to their genetic disposition.

Age: The propensity of becoming obese tends to increase with age due to slowing metabolism rates.

Desexing: Neutered dogs of either sex are more likely to be obese as they have lower metabolic rates.

Owner: It has been suggested that dogs with obese owners tend to be obese. A likely reason for this is that an overweight owner is less likely to exercise his or her dog. Some owners overfeed their dogs, or feed them inappropriate treats and supplements.

Underlying health condition: A dog may have reduced energy requirement due to hormonal diseases, such as hypothyroidism.

Obesity is a preventable problem. If you are concerned about your pet’s weight issues, consult a veterinarian, who can assess the amount of stored body fat in its body and also determine if there is any underlying health condition that is causing the weight gain.

Keep Your Pet Active, Trim and Healthy

Obesity results when the energy we attain from our food intake is more that that expended. Therefore, the two most obvious ways of preventing obesity is to maintain a healthy diet and regular exercise routine.

– Providing an appropriate diet for your pet is a vital part of maintaining its health. Ensuring that it gets adequate exercise is equally important too.

– If you have more than one pet, keep an eye on the animals during mealtimes to ensure that they only eat their own food, and not indulge in extra helpings from the food bowls of the others!

– If you want to pamper or reward your pet with treats, try to give it healthier options like apples, carrots, lean chicken and turkey. But remember – don’t overdo it!

– One way of getting your pet to exercise on its own is to provide it with pet-proof toys to play with. You should be able to find an array of innovative items at pet stores that are designed to keep it busy and happy for hours on end.

– The easiest way to exercise your dog is to take it for walks around the neighborhood. A 20-minute brisk walk daily is recommended. Remember, the bigger your dogs are, the less they want to do. And the less they do, the bigger they get! When you take it for a walk on a lease, try to include bouts of jogging or stair-climbing exercises to give it a cardio workout and strengthen its muscles.

– You are absolutely cannot find the time to walk your dog regularly, seek pet service providers or dog walkers who can help you do so. Ask around for references if you wish to ensure that the service provider is reliable.

– There are various fun ways for you to keep your dog active and fit. For instance, you could take it to areas with open space and get it to chase after a Frisbee, stick or ball. Or hide some kibbles or a toy and get your dog to find it.

– Organizing “play dates” for your dog is another way to get it to exercise. You could make such arrangements with your neighbors and friends, or check out outline pet networks to connect with other like-minded dog owners. Who knows, you might end up making new friends too!

– If your pooch is obese and is not afraid of water, take it for regular swimming sessions to burn off the extra calories. Swimming is a great form of low-impact exercise – it is non weight-bearing and your dog can move freely in the water without stressing its joints.