It’s no secret that more than 1 in 4 people suffer from obesity. Obesity is defined as having an abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health. If you are a woman, you’re obese with greater than 39% body fat, and with greater than 25% if you are a man.
Similarly, about 55% of our pets are overweight or obese. We feed our pets too much food and too many fatty treats, and they don’t get enough exercise. Many people perceive their pets as being at a healthy weight, when in fact they are overweight. As a nation, we and our pets are much too sedentary. Some exercise is necessary to help maintain a normal weight. It is possible, however, to exercise your pet too much.
Dogs need a good, purposeful, walk everyday. They like to stop, sniff around and eliminate. Dogs are built for short, intense bursts of speed with periodic stops. People, on the other hand, are built for long, steady periods of jogging or running. Many people like to run with their dog, but it’s important to be cognizant of how well your dog is suited to this activity. For example, if it is too hot outside, your dog has the potential to get blisters on his paw pads. Many dogs get overheated on runs that are too long. Young dogs shouldn’t go on long runs, as their bones are not fully developed. Likewise, older dogs are at risk for hip and joint problems if they exert themselves too much.
Pay attention to your dog’s comfort level when exercising him. Whether you have a pet that enjoys a longer run, or one that prefers low intensity activity, working toward a healthy weight should be the goal.