Getting that healthy summer body for your pets

Published 7:22 pm Tuesday, April 2, 2019


K9 Corner

Spring is supposed to be here, so it is time to take a look at ourselves and our dogs. What size bathing suit do we need for summer? How about our dogs? Has the holiday season or the cold weather added unwanted weight to them? What are you going to do about this weight? For that matter, what am I going to do about the excess weight in my household (which covers pets)?

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Just a reminder that obesity in dogs is just as bad for the species as it is for humans. Canines are subject to diabetes, heart, liver and kidney failures just like we are. Therefore, it is up to the owner to work with the veterinarian to bring the pet closer to a normal weight as a preventative.

The first thing the veterinarian will do after weighing your pet, is perform a complete physical which may or may not include a blood test. (If your dog has been seen recently the blood test may not be necessary.) Then the doctor will ask you several questions like what and how much the dog eats; how often it eats; what type of exercise the animal gets and how much time it spends exercising.

When answering the question on exercise, do not mistake being outdoors with exercise. Did your pet run and play the full three hours it was outside, or did it spend two hours and fifty-five minutes stretched out in the sun sleeping?

Then your veterinarian will probably recommend an exercise program (which may start out as little as a half block walk from the house and slowly increase as the dog gets stronger) along with a special diet.

Fortunately, there are several varieties of reduced calorie and low calorie maintenance foods available in both canned and dry. It is satisfying to find a food that the dog enjoys and also provides a decrease in ounces each week.

However, exercise is the key, so for those who don’t like to walk, but whose dogs need the exercise; you can play “fetch” for up to 15 minutes in the morning and again at night to provide the necessary activity or you can invest in a dog-walker treadmill. Yes, they do exist.

I read somewhere that a woman took her overweight dog to her health club and put the animal on a treadmill while she worked out on other equipment. I really doubt if any other health club will allow this, but it did happen for this person.

One thing more, I used the word “pets” in this column. This does not mean I think cats will go for an exercise program or even a diet regime. In fact a weight loss program for cats has to be closely monitored by the veterinarian because even a few ounces lost in a week can be detrimental to the cats’ liver function.