One of the greatest things you can do to ensure that your pup lives a long, happy life, is to take care of their health – as you would any family member. And, if that means putting an obese dog on a diet and exercise regime, so be it.
Obesity is not just a modern human epidemic. Unfortunately, many pets are also carrying around excess weight. And if your dog is carrying around extra weight, you should be concerned.
Walking is one of the easiest ways you can help your obese dog lose excess fat. Grab that leash and get Fido ready to enjoy the power of walking to aid weight loss. But first? Read on…
What’s the Key to Losing “Puppy Fat” Through Exercise?
Whether you have two legs or four, the formula for weight loss is the same:
Energy In < Energy Out
The calories you (or your overweight dog) expend through exercise must be greater than the calories you put into your body.1
Dietary considerations aside, if you truly want your obese dog to shed weight through walking, then you’ve got to plan your dog walking routine out. How often will you walk? How long will you walk? How fast will you walk? How often should you weigh your pet?
So, let’s get to the bottom of all this.
1. Get the Right Equipment
If you were going to embrace your own new exercise routine, you might invest in a pair of sturdy, new, exercise shoes. Likewise, your pup should be suitably attired for their workout.
A leash and collar might be useful for a quick walk up the street, or a potty break, but for real walking, these collars can put too much pressure on a dog’s windpipe if they pull too hard. Instead, you should look at getting a walking harness, which sits much lower down on their torso.
Go for something with wide, padded, comfortable straps that won’t dig into your dog’s skin.
You also don’t need a long leash, as you and your dog will be keeping pace together.
Don’t let winter scare you off puppy exercise, either. The elements will always change, but an exercise routine should power on through every season. That said, if you live in a high snowfall area, you’ll need to invest in some protective dog booties or a dog coat.
Finally, don’t forget to carry a water bottle for both you and your pup. It’s important that you both stay hydrated when exercising.
2. Set Goals
Provided your overweight dog’s heart and lungs are healthy, there’s no reason you can’t start them out with a 30-minute walk per day. If you can’t manage 7 days a week, try to walk at least 5 days. Increase the challenge a little each week. So, if you’re walking an obese dog for 30 minutes a day, you should increase the length of that walk gradually every week.2
About one month into your walking routine, try to increase your walks to 40 minutes. And a few weeks later, strive for a one-hour walk. If you don’t have time for a 60-minute walk, try breaking it up into two 30-minute walks.
Your goal is to continue to get your overweight pup to take the majority of any walk at a swift pace, so it’s time to…
3. Pick Up Speed
To really activate fat burning in an overweight pup, they need to exercise hard enough to get their heart rate up. But the average dog loves to stop and smell the roses (or literally anything and everything) during their ever-so casual-dawdle down the street.
So, to increase their heart rate, and burn that fat, they need to increase their pace. Now, some dogs love to run, but perhaps you’re not a runner yourself. Plus, asking an obese dog to run is probably out of the question. And that’s okay! But you’re going to need to set the pace for them.
Keep your leash close, and find a brisk walking pace that’s comfortable for you. But don’t forget to push yourself a little, too. This new walking regime is certain to do great things for your health as well.
What does brisk equate to? Well, you should break a little sweat.
Understand that your overweight dog will want to stop from time to time to sniff things… but don’t give in to them. Keep moving and command them to keep moving too.
So, perhaps in your first week when it’s all very new, aim for 10 minutes of your 30-minute walk to be at a brisk pace. Then the second week, you could increase that to 15 minutes, then 20 minutes, and so on.
If your overweight dog has been sedentary for some time, start slow. There’s plenty of time to increase the briskness as they get more used to the program.
How Often Should I Weigh My Obese Dog?
Weighing your obese dog is a key way to see progress. That progress keeps you motivated to keep exercising with your pup. But weighing in too often can be disheartening when you don’t see an immediate change.
To keep track of your obese dog’s progress, consider weighing them at least once a month until they reach their weight loss goal. This is easiest when it’s done at your vet’s office. Involving your vet is key to your pet’s weight loss success, as they can recommend the most ideal weight loss goal for your breed of dog, along with key dietary tips.
Once your obese dog reaches their optimal weight loss goal, it’s essential to remember that you can’t just stop their walking program. Fitness is a lifelong endeavor. Now, it’s all about maintaining that weight loss.
If you find yourself with an overweight or obese dog, it’s essential that you get them the help they need so they can burn that excess fat. They’re your best friend, and you want them around as long as possible. They may even help you with your own weight loss goals as you get those heart rates up together! Dogs naturally love to get outside and move, so they really are the best motivation for getting YOU outside to exercise.
Watching your pup’s weight also means watching the kind of food that they’re eating (and the hidden ingredients in those foods.)
A good healthy diet, that includes raw, whole foods, can make a real difference.
Though your dog may be super cute when they’re a little pudgy, understand that this is an important health issue and should be treated as such. Don’t hesitate to talk to your vet about how you can best start helping your furry friend’s health.
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