Every weight loss program should include exercise. If you increase the amount of calories your dog uses up, it means there are less to add to his waistline. The difficulty is that it’s often uncomfortable for overweight dogs to run, so you will need to look at alternatives until he has lost a few of those excess kilos.
Just like with people, it’s a great idea to have your dog checked by your veterinarian before you begin, to make sure his body will cope with the extra workload.
Walking is the obvious choice for exercising dogs. You can take your dog further each week, and by doing so, burn up more calories. The main disadvantage of walking is that it is very hard on his legs. They have to carry his excess weight and they can become tired and painful.
When your dog has lost some weight, walking will be more enjoyable for both of you. In the meantime, think about taking him swimming. Water supports his body as he exercises, and this is easier on his joints. There are several ways you can use water to exercise your dog.
If you live near the beach or a lake, this will be easy. Wade in with him until he is out of his depth, so he has to swim. You’ll end up paddling too, but your dog will work hard to swim alongside you.
Some towns have a canine hydrotherapy facility, where dogs can wear a life vest while they swim safely in an indoor heated pool. This is a great way to exercise your overweight dog, but there are costs associated with it, and it may not fit your budget.
Another option that is often available in a hydrotherapy center is an underwater treadmill. These treadmills have see-through plastic sides, and once your dog is on the treadmill, it is filled with warm water until the water level reaches his chest. As he walks, the water supports his body so there is less impact on his joints.
Some people like to sit back and throw a ball for their dog to retrieve. This way they get to relax, while their dog gets all the exercise he needs. This isn’t a good option for overweight dogs, because they can tear the ligaments in their knees as they twist and turn to catch their ball. Most dogs also don’t know when to stop, and if they play too long they will end up with stiff sore legs after their game.
Exercise is a vital part of any dog’s life, but particularly so if they are trying to lose weight. Not only does it use up calories, but the endorphins that are released during exercise will leave him feeling calm and happy. Treat your pooch carefully in the early stages of weight loss, and he’ll not only enjoy the exercise but will also avoid injury.