10 Ways To Exercise for Weight Loss With Your Pet
Fun tricks and exercise for weight loss while playing with your dog or cat
Is your pet too fat?
To tell if your pet is an overweight dog, follow this scoring system used by most vets: As your pet is standing, look down at him.
You should see an indentation after his ribs—the waist. As you place your hands on his rib cage and apply gentle pressure, you should be able to feel his ribs.
If you can pinch an inch, your pet is not fluffy. He is fat. When a small- or medium-size animal gains even a little weight, it can have a significant impact on its health.
When a 15-pound dog is 5 pounds overweight, that’s the equivalent of you weighing 30% more than you should!
If Sparky is really out of shape, take him to the vet for a thorough exam before you start upping his exercise regimen, says Bernadine Cruz, DVM, chair of the AVMA’s Council on Communications and a companion animal veterinarian in southern California. The vet can recommend the best types of exercise to get started.
4 key safety tips when exercising with your dog
- Remember that pets can’t sweat (they pant to cool down), so the best time to exercise outdoors is morning or evening, when it’s not too hot.
- Certain dogs will have an easier time exercising than others. Brachycephalic breeds—aka those with a pushed-in face, like pugs or Boston terriers—have a harder time breathing in general, and especially when exercising during hot, humid weather, says Cruz. Heat and humidity are also enemies of older dogs or those with respiratory issues.
- Sounds obvious, but smaller or short-legged pets are probably not your best marathon training partners; they’re not born to run long distances like Labs or retrievers. Instead, try shorter interval walks with sprints.
- Watch for signs of exhaustion or overheating. Provide an ounce of water for every pound your pet weighs. If your pooch pants excessively or hyperventilates, his tongue and gums turn brick red, or he can’t keep up and stands or lies listlessly, stop exercising and seek immediate veterinary care. These may be signs of a heat stroke, which is potentially fatal.
Now you know the basics, let’s get started!
1. Interval walk
“So many pet owners consider walking their pets a chore, like making the bed,” says Peterson. “Instead, think of it as a way for you both to get exercise, as an essential part of your pet’s good health.” A quick walk down the block to pee and back isn’t enough activity, he says. Multiple short walks a day may be best for very young, very old, or physically challenged dogs, says Cruz. But for other pets, take longer strolls that increase your pet’s heart rate (at least 15 to 20 minutes), which will boost his metabolism. One way to do this is to add intervals, suggests Peterson. Here’s how.
- 1 minute: walk
- 20 seconds: jog
- 1 minute: walk
- 20 seconds: shuffle sideways
- 1 minute: walk
- 20 seconds: run backward
Repeat 5 times and you’ll get in a decent 20-minute cardio workout. “Your dog will get excited because you’re always changing things up—just as fired up as he would be from a treat,” Peterson says.
2. Fetch tease for abs
Crunch and tone your tummy while your dog sprints to play fetch.
How to: Grab your pet’s favorite fetch toy and get down on the floor in sit-up position. Hold the toy as you do a sit-up, and pretend to toss it as you reach the top. Fido will chase after it, only to realize you still have his toy. Do another sit-up, and pretend to toss the toy again. Try to get in as many reps as you can until your dog stops chasing and playing along.
3. Squat tease
Firm your butt and thighs while your dog gets his jump on.
How to: Stand with legs shoulder-width apart. Squat and tap your dog with his favorite toy. As you rise, lift the toy above your head; your dog will jump up for it.
4. Dogstacle course
This is circuit training for you and your pet. A great exercise for weight loss.
How to: Place fitness gear throughout your backyard, as though you’re creating an obstacle course (only do this in a fenced-in area).
Think fitness step, bosu ball, jump rope, hula hoop, etc.
Place your dog on a leash and briskly walk through the course together. At each station, stop and do a specific exercise, like modified push-ups on the step or balancing moves on the bosu ball.
Some well-trained dogs may sit still while you work out, but if he doesn’t, no biggie.
If your pooch runs off, that’s part of the fun—you’ll both get a good sprint when you chase him to bring him back. Your dog will love the quality time with you and the fast-paced walking between your stations.
Article by Lauren Gelman – Prevention.com
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