Many of us are hitting the gym more often than usual to shed a couple of pounds in time for the summer, and will continue to do so throughout June, July and August. But with recent statistics on obesity and pets, you may want to consider bringing Fido along.
Almost half of the nation’s pets (44% of dogs and 57% of cats – 84 million animals in total) are overweight or obese. Like humans, excess weight in pets can be detrimental to their internal organs, joints and longevity. To combat obesity in pets (and people), Heidi Ganahl, CEO and Founder of, Camp Bow Wow (http://www.campbowwow.com/), North America’s largest and fastest growing pet care franchise, an INC 5000 company with franchise opportunities available across the country, offers a series of tips for “Smart Exercising with Pets in the Summer Heat,” below.
Walking: Walking is a simple yet beneficial practice for both humans and pets alike. When walking with your pet, try to stay on dirt or grass paths, as too much walking or running on concrete can stress joints and irritate your dog’s foot pads. In warmer temperatures, concrete emanates heat which can increase the body temperature of your pet relatively quickly. Under these conditions, be sure to keep Fido properly hydrated.
Jogging: Jogging is a great form of exercise, but not all dogs are built to jog. If you want to jog with your pet, choose a breed that is suited to distance-running. Your jog with Fido should include five minutes of warm-up, 20 minutes of jogging, and five minutes of cool-down. During the summer, avoid jogging during the hottest times of the day and stop if your dog is lagging behind you.
Swimming: Another good, low stress option for exercise is swimming – it’s a great way to get you and your pup’s body in motion while staying cool in the summer heat. However, safety is a concern here as not all dogs are great swimmers. Even those that are can easily overexert themselves. Be sure to keep an eye out for fatigue at all times. You may also want to consider having your pet wear a doggie life vest.
Frisbee: A game of Frisbee provides a classic canine workout and some outdoor fun for both you and your pup. You can play a game in your own yard or join a “Disc Dog” team. Participating in competitions may give you and your dog greater motivation to practice regularly.
Hiking: If your residence or community offers hiking, take advantage and bring Fido along. Most dogs love to explore the outdoors. Like walking, you’ll need to maintain a brisk enough pace to elevate you and your pet’s heart rate. As always, be sure to keep you and your pet properly hydrated, especially during extended excursions.
Pets Need Sunscreen: Just like humans, cats and dogs can get sunburned while out in the sun, especially if he or she has light-colored hair. Animal sunburns can cause the same problems as that of humans – peeling, redness and even cancer. As skin cancer in pets is a serious concern, purchasing pet-friendly sunscreen can go a long way in protecting the health of your pet. Places that are easy to forget, but prone to burning are: inside the nostrils, tip of nose, around your dog’s lips and the inside of ears for dogs with standup ears.
Senior Pets: Consider the age of your pet when developing an exercise routine. Senior dogs in particular need adequate exercise, but adjust his or her routine to their abilities. A mere 15 minutes of massaging and stretching every day will raise your dog’s sense of well being. Jogging with your dog may not be appropriate if he or she is arthritic, but swimming and other low-impact activities are great for dogs with joint pain.