Thursday, May 10, 2012

Canine Wellness and Fitness

It seems like these are the buzz words within the canine community these days. Pet owners are facing the problems they have created by over feeding their dogs and spoiling them in a fashion that has impacted their ability to enjoy life along side the owners. Pet obesity is a problem Nation wide... and it is certainly more prevalent in our culture in the States than it is else where in the world. Why is this? Well for one, we have a different out look on our relationship with our dogs than most dog parents in different parts of the world. But how is it that a dog that is supposed to be between 5-7 lbs is allowed to reach 20lbs, and a dog that is supposed to maintain good weight between 75-80 lbs is made to reach 130 lbs. Lets take a look at this by listing some of the most common breeds of dogs, and their respective weight (in lbs) classifications according to breed standard: Chihuahuas: 4 Dachshunds: 8 - 12 (mini's) 15 - 26 (standards) Yorkshire Terrier: 6 Jack Russel: 13 - 17 Labrador Retriever: 65 - 79/80 Golden Retriever: 65 - 75 German Shepherd: 75 - 90 Australian Shepherd: 55 - 65 Border Collie: 45 - 50 English Springer Spaniel: 45 - 55 French Bulldog: 18 - 27 Corgis: 25 - 35 Boxer: 65 - 70 Vizsla: 45 - 60 Weimaraner: 55 - 70 English Bulldogs: 49 - 55 Of course there are gender differences regarding weight; females are typically smaller than the males. Where once upon a time, breeding we bred for predictability, it was easy to determine the proper weight of a dog, defined by its breed and the work that dog did. Now though, breeding patterns have evolved and vary a lot, even within breeders of the same breed of dog. Some breed for bone density, others for miniatures sizes, and thus our ability to predict the size of a dog and temperament has been effected greatly. To complicate things more, our lifestyles have evolved and in many cases that are not suitable to the dogs needs. Furthermore, in an attempt to be kind, we have "spoiled" our best friends, literally, not kindly, effecting their health and mobility from a very young age... shortening their lives considerably. Dogs like in humans are effected by carrying more weight than their body is structurally built for. As dogs age, it becomes harder to shed off the access weight just like with us! It's not just about diet control, its about overall wellness. What can I do to start with my dog's diet? 1. Feed your dog a food it can break down easily to convert into energy, and a food that does not comprise off carbs or cereal. For dogs that are overweight, my preference is Honest Kitchen. HK is a dehydrated raw, very palatable, easy to digest and converts to energy very fast. I love dehydrated raw foods or raw foods for overweight pets because of the increase in water intake as well... not because they will drink more, but they get water out of their food that helps flush out their digestive systems, as well as keeping them hydrated. 2. Start by doubling up the exercise routine you currently provide your dog. If you only walk once a day, walk twice a day, if you walk two times a day, double up on the distance. If you are not able to add a walk to your busy schedule hire a dog walker. 3. Add a soft exercise to your dog's regimne, such as swimming, balance exercise and massage. 4. Build on intensity, speed and duration incrementally. How can I determine if my dog is overweight? There is a very simple method to help you determine if your pet is over weight, here it is: 1. Make a fist with right your hand. 2. Take your left index finger and lightly run it over your knuckles and crevices. 3. Now take your left index finger and lightly run if over your fingers / fist. 4. Last, take your index finger, and lightly (using the same pressure) run it over your dog's side, along the ribs. - If you can't feel your dogs ribs, your dog is overweight. - If you can gently feel your dogs ribs, your dog is in good shape. - If your finger has a bumpy ride along your dogs ribs, than your dog can do good to gain some weight. Whenever I evaluate a dog, I also will base my evaluation on how the dog stands. Looking at the dog front on, the dogs body should not pour over the dogs legs. Looking at the dog from atop, I generally like to see a dog with a waste. Looking at the dog from the rear, I like to see a dog in great form and stride when walking... the dog should not be dragging its feet (unless of course of a medical issue). Take care of your pets, you will spend less in $$$ when they are in good health, and more in YEARS! Who does not want that deal? Before you take any of these steps consult your veterinarian with your action plan.

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