Doggie Fitness 101

Canine Fitness

The Fitness Craze: Not Just for People Anymore

We seem to be surrounded with an overwhelming amount of health “aids” designed to assist us in finding a fitter and healthier existence. There are the watches that monitor our every move and calculate calorie consumption, gyms and fitness centers open 24 hours a day so that there are no more excuses to avoid that workout, nutritional supplements and programs to increase our metabolism and provide greater energy for more….stuff. It is not surprising that this fitness movement has spilled over into our pet’s lives as well. Our pets are battling the obesity epidemic just as we are. Pet weight loss has become a huge niche in the veterinary world: dog collars specially designed to monitor activity level and baseline resting info, the numerous specially formulated weight loss foods promising to be ” THE ONE” to help your pet shed those pesky pounds,  fitness centers providing gym services for the client who is unable or the dog who is unwilling to exercise enough at home. The list goes on and on as we all know, so is this all hype? Should we be concerned about our pet’s fitness level? The answer is….YES!

Why Fitness is Important for Our Pets as Well as Ourselves

Not all (or even most) of the pets that come through our hospital are athletic in any organized way. On one end of the athletic spectrum we have the sporting dogs such as agility, field trials, and dock dogs. The complete opposite end is the companion animal whose primary job is offering unconditional love and left-over food tasting. The majority of our pets fall somewhere in the middle: maybe a little overweight, plays some but doesn’t have enough structured exercise time, generally healthy but not very well conditioned. We have all heard about these studies looking at weight and activity and how they relate to the longevity of our animal companions (too boring to read but they are out there if you are interested). The bottom line is that pets living with a healthy weight have less medical issues such as metabolic diseases, mobility limitations, and respiratory dysfunction. Active pets that are exercised regularly and are better conditioned will recover faster and with less complications from injury such as cruciate tears or orthopedic issues. A dog that is engaged in exercise or consistent activity is working both their body and mind. Exercise can be a way to divert the trouble maker from undesirable activities (chewing up things) to healthier ones (ball playing or tug of war). Canine (and feline) fitness does not necessarily have to mean “athletic”, but rather healthy, active, and engaged. So now what? Continue…