How to keep your dog happy, healthy, and fit in the New Year

First od all, a very Happy and Healthy New Year to everyone and I hope your dog had great holidays as well. Dogs need exercise and love it. In order to keep your dog happy, healthy, fit and slim your dog needs to move and play. Exercise can be walking, running, playing, some even like swimming. As a general rule keep in mind that the dog should be active at least 3 times a day for 10 – 20 minutes each.

The level and intensity of activity certainly have to be tailored to a dog’s age, health and breed. Some breeds are very activity-oriented and need more challenging, intense exercises, such as agility training, running, swimming, etc., some breeds, and older dogs like shorter walks at a medium pace better.

The best thing is to rotate activities to keep your animal animated. Add a Frisbee or ball play in a park, or take him to the dog park to interact with other dogs. Especially dog parks have the advantage to improve your animal’s skills to get along with other dogs.

Active dogs are not bored and therefore much less likely to chew up your furniture, shoes, etc. Daily exercise gives your dog the chance to release stress and energy and he will be less tempted to “pester” the family with constant misbehavior or whining/barking.

Don’t make the mistake to think that a dog kept in a yard has enough opportunity to exercise. Your dog will probably be either very bored and dig up everything in his reach, bark up a storm, or simply sleep if kept alone for too long. Just make sure your dog is enjoying the days as much as you do.

Remember, even outdoor dogs need their daily walk and interaction with others, play, and entertainment. A slim, trim, fit and active dog is a healthy dog and you can add years to his life. And – exercising and walking your dog is good for you too.

Nutrition

Proper nutrition is very important for your dog’s health and helps prevent your puppy from playful biting too much. Overweight dogs have an increased risk of heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes. Obese and overweight dogs become reluctant to exercise and longer walks and tend to move much less. The less they move, the more weight they gain. It is hard to put a dog on a strict diet to lose weight. Much better is to feed him dog a healthy, well-balanced diet that is nutritious so the problems won’t even arise!

Count the calories! Yes, that sounds like something we humans have to do, but it is also important for your dog (and cats, but we will discuss the felines in a different forum). You can prolong your dog’s life by keeping the daily calorie intake appropriate and a healthy weight makes traveling with your dog a lot easier as well. If in doubt, please ask your veterinarian for feeding suggestions, how much, how often, and how many calories your dog should be given per day.

You can also follow feeding directions on the dog food package. Keep in mind though, that very active dogs, especially dogs that run a lot or into agility training burn more calories than dogs that stay inside most of the time and are not too playful. The directions on the food packages are only guidelines and might have to be adjusted depending on the activity level of your animal.

Feed your dog nutritious, healthy food. Especially the no-brand-name dog foods that you can buy in supermarkets contain a lot of fillers and carbohydrates. We do recommend, if possible, to feed your animals organic food and keep in mind that raising and feeding a German Shepherd pup is something different from raising a Shih Tzu puppy, for example. A balanced, healthy diet for your animal contains just the right amount of fat, carbohydrates, and protein. If you have children in the house, you’ll notice that it helps them, too!

Your animal needs regular feeding times. Most people feed mornings and evenings. We do not advice to leave the food bowl up for grabs all day long. Even some dogs are not “nibblers”, they might become “nibblers” and will eat constantly. (Compare it with a bag of chips for us humans. It’s hard to eat just a few if they are kept in reach!). Don’t teach your dog this bad habit. He might eat out of boredom when you are not home – and gain weight. You can leave some dry kibbles in a separate bowl, just don’t forget to count these calories and deduct them from the two main portions.

Remember that treats given for training, praise, as rewards, filled in Kong Toys, etc. contain calories. Keep track of these calories and deduct the amount from the daily limit. Check out also this post on Imperials and Chinese Imperials.

And speaking of treats, don’t give your dog cookies, or table scraps, offer healthy treats instead. Some of these treats are even designed to freshen your dog’s breath! We have reviewed several and so far two of them really found our approval (and our dogs).