Walking for Weight loss : Tips to keep your dog in shape
In the UK the number of dogs being classified as obese has continued to climb, whilst poor and excessive diet is considered as a major cause, execise,or lack of it is certainly a factor for this national crisis. The PAW report identified that only 24% of dogs receive more than 1 hour of exercise each day which suggests the majority of dogs are not getting nearly enough.
A lack of adequate exercise can cause a whole host of health problems for our dogs including inevitable weight gain and low energy levels. It can also lead to significant behavioural issues such as frustration, restlessness and destructive behaviour.
How much is enough?
Outside access to a garden, no matter how large it may be, in most cases is not enough to exercise your dog. Almost all dogs require 1-2 walks each day to keep fit and maintain good mental health. When considering how much exercise your dog needs you should consider the following points:
- Breed differences. Some dog breeds require longer walks because they typically have high energy levels such as Border Collies, Labradors and German Shepherds. By comparison some smaller breeds such as Pomeranians and King Charles Spaniels will have slightly lower energy levels and require shorter walks.
- Your dogs age. Young, growing dogs should have the length and intensity of exercise sessions increased slowly to protect their joints. Older dogs , will likely need slightly shorter, gentler but more frequent walks to keep joints mobile whilst reducing the impact of exercise.
- Underlying health conditions. Some health conditions such as heart disease and arthritis require caution when it comes to length of exercise. Veterinary advice should be sought to understand how to safely exercise a dog with any serious health considerations.
There are some great online exercise calculators which help to determine the distance and time your dog should exercise each day but as an example a healthy adult chihuahua should receive a minimum of 30 minutes daily exercise whereas a healthy adult retriever needs at least 2 hours of exercise every day.
The Burning Cost of that ‘harmless’ treat
Feeding human food and treats has also long been identified as being a big part of the problem in the battle against obesity. Here some examples of why human foods are so problematic and how much exercise your dog would need in order to burn them off:
- One slice of toast is the equivalent to a bag of chips and would take a medium sized dog 1 hour and 20 minutes of exercise to burn off.
- A 30g block of cheese is the equivalent of 1.5 cheeseburgers and would take that same dog 1 hour and 45 minutes of exercise to burn off.
- Finally a packet of ready salted crisps is the equivalent of a 2 whole steak pies and takes a staggering 2 hours and 40 minutes of exercise to burn off.