Is your dog overweight? It’s time to go exercise your dog to keep him fit and trim. However, exercising your overweight dog needs extra care. Running, or even walking, may be stressful as he may not be fit.
Excessive weight can also cause overheating due to physical activity, leading to heat stroke. Here are some ways for you to exercise safely with your overweight dog:
Proper exercise can consist of walking, running, jogging, hiking, or interactive play such as chasing balls and Frisbees. Some dogs enjoy swimming or running on treadmills, but these activities must be done with precaution. Some dogs may also react well to agility training, which can be very beneficial for them.
Every dog has a different disposition and it may take a while for you to figure out what kind of activity your dog prefers. A variety of games and exercises will make losing weight fun and entertaining for both of you. Mental stimulation such as playing hide-and-seek with toys will help to keep your dog interested and happy.
10 Precautions To Note
1. Before starting the exercise regime, schedule a check up with your dog’s veterinarian to see what activities are recommended for the size and weight of your dog. Always be sure of your dog’s limitations and needs.
2. Do not feed your dog immediately before and after intense exercise. This can cause stomach upset or dangerous bloating and stomach twisting which can be very painful or even fatal to your dog.
3. If your overweight dog is not used to exercising, you should start slow and easy, then gradually increase the amount of exercise. Think about how you would undertake an exercise regime yourself and apply the same progression with your dog.
4. Overweight dogs may stop in the middle of a walk or jog and simply refuse to continue. This may be because they are winded or in pain, or both. To be safe, you may want to restrict walks to areas closer to home and go at a slower pace. It might be better to take your overweight dog for several short walks in a day, rather than a few long ones.
5. Take frequent breaks during workouts.
6. Avoid exercising outdoors on hot days as it may put your dog at risk of dehydration and heatstroke. Overweight dogs tend to heat up easily due to poor heat dissipation.
7. As with all dogs, always watch for signs of exhaustion such as heavy panting, wheezing, lameness, and disorientation.
8. Similarly, access to fresh, cool water at all times is very important.
9. Ensure that the pavement or ground that your dog is walking on is not too rough to your dog’s paws. Paw irritation can occur even on asphalt and concrete. Keep to grassy areas as much as possible.
10. Rewarding your dog with treats at the end of every exercise session is a great way to encourage participation, but be firm in giving only a small amount each time.
*This article was updated on 29 Jul 2020. It first appeared in PetsMagazine.com on 28 Oct 2010.