03rd January 2017

The simple way to keep your pet fit, healthy and happy

We all know eating a good diet and taking regular exercise is an essential part of keeping fit and well - both for us and our pets. But, as with our own regime, while we may have the best intentions, maintaining our plans for our pet's healthcare may be harder than we think. Its tough to resist those big brown eyes as they plead for just a little more food, but resist you must as its so important to make sure your dog or cat stays healthy by eating the right foods and in the right amounts, combined with the right amount of exercise. 

As with humans, obesity can cause a wide range of problems for pets, especially dogs. The RSPCA lists these as:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Respiratory distress
  • High blood pressure
  • Cancers

And there have been recent reports in the national news that cases of arthritis in dogs has tripled as a result of obesity. Making sure your pet does not become obese is a key part of taking care of them and ensuring their welfare and well-being. 

How do you know if you have a healthy dog or cat?

To make sure that your pet is healthy and not obese the RSPCA has complied a simple checklist:

  • You should be able to see and feel the outline of your pet’s ribs without excess fat covering
  • You should be able to see and feel your pet’s waist and it should be clearly visible when viewed from above
  • Your pet’s belly should be tucked up when viewed from the side
  • If your pet does not pass these checks, or if you are in any doubt, consult your vet.

Source:  RSPCA

It's important to check your pet regularly to make sure they continue to pass all the points above.

Time to get fit

Just as the amount and the quality of the food your pet eats has a dramatic effect on their well-being, so does the amount of exercise they get each day. Dogs are intelligent so need to be entertained and stimulated to stay happy and well behaved. If your dog starts chewing the TV remote, gnawing at the furniture, stealing food or jumping up at you or your guests, it could be a sign of boredom.

We understand it can be hard to muster up the energy to take your dog for a walk at times, especially if the weather’s bad (we know because we’ve felt exactly the same way – and got the muddy wellies and the splattered raincoats to prove it) but there are lots of things you can do to shake up your dog walking routine and add something a little bit different into the mix. Here are our favourite suggestions

1. Scent games 

Keep them on their paws by inventing a scent game. This could be done in your garden or on a regular walking route. Hide a series of treats that are good for your dog’s health, boosting their nutrition levels as well as piquing their curiosity.

2. A balancing act

Look out for ledges, branches and other narrow pathways for your dog to walk along. Balancing on fallen branches, climbing up hills in the park or up narrow stairs in more urban settings needs lots of concentration that will keep your dog’s brain busy and happy. Take care to only let dogs over 12 months old jump from heights because young dogs’ joints need to be looked after and protected from sudden impacts.

3. Hide and seek 

Dogs love a challenge, so whether you’re walking in the park, by the sea or in an open field, see if there’s somewhere where you can throw their favourite ball or toy into a hidden area. It could be a patch of dense vegetation, the sea itself or a field with long grasses. The added effort it takes to find the object of their attention will present a challenge they’ll love to overcome. Remember to give lots of praise when they emerge, victorious and with their beloved ball or toy.

4. Jumping in 

Most dogs love to swim, and this is an excellent way to give them an all over work out that stimulates their skin, gets their blood racing and exercises every limb. If you're feeling brave, you might even want to join in with the fun? Always make sure water is safe before either your dog or you enters. 

For more adventurous dogs, The Canine Centre in North Wales runs special training courses for dogs that love water. You can take your dog out in a boat, swim alongside them, teach your dog to dock dive and even train them to become a K9 lifeguard.

Where does it hurt?

Your pet can't tell you if they're hurt, so make sure to regularly check their body, from face to paws regularly paying particular attention to any new lumps or cuts.

It's also important you keep a regular check on the inside of their mouth and there are a number of indicators of poor oral hygiene in dogs. These include bad breath, excessive drooling, trouble eating and signs that your dog is trying to paw at their mouth. Even with the recommended regular scale and polish at the vets every 6 - 12 months, dental problems can still occur. To help avoid potentially painful dental procedures, it makes sense to provide a range of chews and toys that can help to keep your pet’s mouth healthy all year round.

As well as our Grin n Tear it range of rope toys which flosses your pet's teeth as it frays, we also have the brilliantly named Tuber Chews, a range of wild tree roots perfect for dogs to gnaw. These long-lasting dog chews will not splinter, so you can rest assured that even the most vigorous chewing from your dog will be perfectly safe. The chews also contain naturally present vitamins and minerals for added health benefits.  

TO NOTE

The above provides guidance only. Regular visits to the vet can significantly improve early diagnosis and treatment of issues which may impact on your dog's health. Always consult your vet directly about any concerns you may have about your pet's health