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How many of us have started the new year with a gym membership, new exercise bike orget fit with your dog by walking personal training sessions?  Of course, these can help keep us fit, but you may have your very own Mr Motivator living with you 24 hours a day at no extra cost.  Exercising with dogs is one of the best ways of improving your health and well-being as well as that of your dog.

Its not just we humans that are getting fatter, statistics show that up to 60% of dogs and cats in the UK are clinically obese.   It’s not rocket science, we all know this stuff – too much food & too little exercise.  And we all know the possible consequences for people & pets: Diabetes Mellitus, orthopaedic disease, heart disease, respiratory distress, high blood pressure and cancers.  Let’s face it, it’s not much fun when every move you make leaves you breathless and exhausted.  Your pet relies on you to make the best decisions for their health and well-being so why not get fitter together.

Here are 10 top tips to help you and your furry friend get the New Year off to a happier, healthier start

  1. Get advice: here at Dave Cumber Vets we offer free weight clinics at both are Dorchester & Weymouth surgeries.  These are run by our highly experienced nurses who will help set an appropriate goal weight for your pet and give you advice & support on how to achieve it
  2. Be aware: risk factors for obesity include:  age, certain breeds, being female, neutering and having an overweight owner – sorry, but that’s actually true!  These are risk factors NOT excuses
  3. Portion size: this applies to pets as much as people.  There is a natural tendency for portion size to creep upwards, so weigh your pet’s food and mark your scoop so that you give the correct amount at every meal
  4. Tit-bits and treats: snacks between meals make your pet fat – don’t do it, it’s not fair to them.  If you give treats as a reward, keep them small and limit the number per day.
  5. Walking: surveys have shown that 1 in 4 people admit to NEVER taking their dog for a walk.  Start gently and build up to 30-60 minutes a day.  Its great exercise for you and your pooch and it’s a great de-stresser
  6. Play: You are your dog’s best friend and playmate – so play!  Run around, get your pet to chase you, play hide and seek or play catch with a ball.  Dogs get bored just as people do, so liven things up a bit.
  7. Play dates: many dogs love playing with other dogs and will run around playing chase for ages.  Its great exercise and great for socialisation – dogs are pack animals, most enjoy canine company. Look for a local park where others walk their dogs and you and your pet can make some new friends
  8. Exercise for the brain & body: many dogs enjoy a mental as well as physical challenge.  Why not have a go at agility classes or Flyball.  They are a fantastic way to keep your best friend entertained, socialised and fit – and you get to socialise as well.  They cater for all abilities so why not give it a go?
  9. CaniX: pronounced canicross, is getting out with your best friend and doing what they love best – running.  You run attached to your dog by a harness and most dogs take to it very quickly because dogs love to run, and it taps into their natural instincts. Take a look at canix.co.uk to find out more
  10. Again – get advice: you don’t have to do this by yourself.  Our team will be delightedly to help and keep helping.  When your pet is the correct weight it will be happier and healthier which is every vet’s ultimate goaldogs love to play

You may feel your pet loves you when you give them food, but they will love you even more if you give them quality time, attention and the health to be able to get out there and enjoy life. You benefit, they benefit it’s a WIN WIN – happy New year!