It was a tough winter this year with all the ice… over ½ the dogs we are seeing at Countryside the last couple of months have GAINED weight compared to the weight of their last visit! Rule of thumb: If you have a large breed dog, for every pound they gain, it is like 4 human pounds – so if your dog gained 4 lbs, that is 4x4 which equals 16 human lbs!! SCARY! If you have a medium to small bred dog, for every 1 lb they gain it is like 10 human pounds! So if they gain 2 lbs, that is 20 human lbs! Super scary!
However, the weather is finally getting nicer! Here are some things you can do to help them exercise off some of the winter weight:
- Just get out and walk them! If you already have been walking them thru the winter, increase your mileage by ½ – so if you normally walk ½ mile, then increase it by ¼ mile.
- Get them trotting on a walk. Flexi-leads help give them more freedom and allow them to walk faster than you do.
- Run with them! I’m sure most of us could use a little exercise too, so consider putting on your running shoes. Even if you only run a couple hundred yards, then walk a couple hundred yards, then run again (run/walk/run/walk) that is good for BOTH of you!
- If you decide to bike ride with them (no, they aren’t in the basket or towed behind in one of those baby trailer thingies), be sure to use a “Springer” which is made for biking with your dog
- Are you coordinated? Then maybe rollerblading with them is an option, but be sure your rollerblades have good breaks on them!
- If you have a dog that likes to pull you (like huskies or malamutes or other working dogs), consider getting them a pulling sled dog harness from Black Ice in New Germany, MN (you can find them online). Possibly order a tow rope as well and put a piece of split firewood on the end so it helps create drag and resistance to make the dog work harder.
- Decrease their food by ¼! So if they normally get 1 cup in the morning and 1 cup at night, give them 1 cup in the morning and ½ cup at night. Decreasing calories will really help. You also can consider getting a “low calorie” food instead which has fewer kcals per cup.
- Cats need exercise too! Even though many cats are indoor cats, when we hang out inside more, we have a tendency to feed them more in the winter, thus they can gain wt too. Consider cat toys that cause them to move around like light pens (where they chase the light), or toys on rods so they chase them, OR even moving their food downstairs makes them go up and down the stairs more. Watch their calories as well and consider less-active type brands of foods.