Canine Fitness

Keeping your canine fit is similar to keeping yourself fit. Dogs need exercise and a good diet to remain in peak condition. It is important not to over feed your dog, as being overweight will lead to health problems just as it will in human beings. Exercise will help your dog mentally and physically. Older dogs may need extra encouragement but exercise will help them maintain their agility. It may be tempting to reward your dog with treats all day or respond to big sad eyes with food, but it is not healthy. Obesity in dogs can cause problems walking and breathing. Your veterinarian can advise you on your dog?s weight and check for any underlying health problems in obese dogs. If your dog needs to drop a few pounds there are a number of calorie controlled dog foods that will help you with his weight loss. Normal weight dogs will need nutritional adjustments as they age. These adjustments are dependent on the size of the dogs but typically should begin at 5 ? 7 years. Your veterinarian can advise you on specific changes for your dog. Nutritional adjustments in advance of overt symptoms can prevent or slow down some age related changes. When exercising your dog, it is important to use the same precautions that you would employ for yourself. Proper conditioning will prevent injury and keep your dog healthy. Gradually increase the distance and speed over a progression of time. Do not take a previously sedentary dog and suddenly begin running ten miles with him. Even energetic dogs may need to be reigned in so that they do not overdo it as this can lead to soreness and injury. Be mindful of weather conditions. Hot weather can be particularly dangerous as your dog can overheat. Dogs can only dissipate heat by panting or through the pads of their feet. Proper hydration will prevent your dog from having heat stroke. Give your dog lots of water before and after exercise. Take water with you, especially if you will be exercising for a long period of time. You may need to slow the pace a bit on warmer days. You should be aware of your dog?s ability and fitness level. Let your dog set the pace; do not force the dog to keep up with you. Following all of these guidelines will keep both you and your dog fit for life!

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