WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) – The Veterinary Centers of America reported 25% of all household dogs are obese in the US. April is Canine Fitness Month, which encourages all pet owners to focus on their furry friend’s diet and exercise.
Becca Brelle, the lead certified veterinary technician for the Stevens Point Animal Hospital said daily activity can increase a pet’s lifespan and lower its risk for disease.
“It really helps everything in the body. Mind, joints, overall organ structure. Everything really benefits from keeping your pet fit,” Brelle said.
FitPAWS founded National Canine Fitness Month to encourage all pet parents to get moving not just in April, but all year round. They suggest starting with a small amount of exercise and increase by 5-10 minute increments every 4-7 days.
The company sells fitness kits focusing on agility and mental fitness.
“My pets are my family. And I just would want to be able to treat their health. In the same way that I would treat a family member’s health,” Sonya Courtney with FitPAWS said.
Going on a walk can be a great form of movement for most dogs. Brelle said to avoid long walks with pets with short respiratory tracts and puppies.
If a pet is struggling with weight, Brelle said to first look at their diet.
“We use food as means to say ‘I love you’ and that often leads to overfeeding. So instead of giving them a treat, or filling their food bowl, say I love you by logging their diet and keeping them healthy,” Brelle said.
She suggests documenting meals to know how much they are fed and switching to a healthier food if necessary. Brelle said to also take into account that as animals grow older, they need different kinds of food that work with their body better.
If no weight loss occurs after a change of diet and activity level, Brelle said to contact your vet.
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