Planning to live a healthier lifestyle is one thing, but actually summoning the motivation to do so is a different matter.
Many dog owners feel more motivated to get fit and healthy when they do so alongside their dogs. For example, you probably already go on walks with your dog. But walking isn’t the only way you and your dog can get healthy together. Here are three other ideas to get healthy with your dog.
1. Training for a Race
You’ve probably heard of many different race options and even considered training for one. But did you know that there are races you can participate in with your dog? You can find races throughout the country that invite your dog to run with you. Most of these are 5K races (3.1 miles), but there are also 10K, 30K, and even 50K races that are dog friendly.
Just as you need the go-ahead from your doctor before participating in a new fitness activity, you should also get the go-ahead from your dog’s vet before you prepare for the race. Certain breeds of dogs can’t run as far as others. Bulldogs, for example, often struggle with breathing. You also want to keep your dog’s age and health in mind before starting a new exercise program.
To train with your dog, start out slow. If you’ve never run with your dog before, try adding 5 or 10 minutes of running to your daily walk. If your dog does well, add more running time each day.
Make sure both you and your dog drink plenty of water before and after each run. If you are or your dog is struggling to breathe at any point, slow down and don’t push yourself or your canine too hard. Also, make sure it is not too warm or humid outside and limit exercise when it is.
Sign up for a dog-and-me race as soon as you feel you and your dog are physically ready for it.
2. Change Your Reward System
Do you constantly reward your dog (and yourself) with delicious treats? While giving your dog an occasional doggy biscuit is okay, overeating can cause obesity and other health problems. The same applies to dog owners. Eating too many sweet treats can increase your risk for many health problems, including diabetes and heart disease.
You and your dog can get healthy together if you change both of your eating habits. Instead of constantly rewarding your dog with food, try:
- Praising your dog
- Petting your dog
- Playing fetch with your dog
- Taking your dog on a walk
- Giving your dog a toy to play with
If you want to give your dog a food reward, allowing your dog to chew on a bone can be a healthier option than a doggy treat. Chewing on a rawhide bone gives your dog a natural source of calcium and might even help his or her dental health. The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) has a list of accepted oral health products available on their website.
Just as you avoid rewarding your dog with sweet treats, you should avoid the same reward system for yourself. Avoid using desserts and junk food as a reward for meeting your goals. Instead, decide on a non-food reward like clothes or electronics. Or, reward yourself with free time to do your favorite hobby.
If you do occasionally reward yourself with food, choose something that’s both nutritious and delicious. Ideas include celery with natural peanut butter, fruit and yogurt dip, or vegetables and hummus.
3. Schedule Medical Checkups
Getting a regular medical checkup is important for both you and your dog. Medical professionals recommend that you see a doctor at least once a year. Your doctor can monitor your overall health and let you know about anything you should do or change to improve your health. He or she can also catch problems like high blood pressure, and high cholesterol and treat them before they get worse.
A similar checkup schedule applies to your dog. Adult dogs should visit a veterinarian once or twice a year. Your dog’s veterinarian can advise you on proper preventative care that can help your dog avoid disease. The veterinarian will examine your dog for any health problems, give your dog any needed vaccinations, and check your dog’s teeth.
Keep in mind that puppies need to see a vet more frequently, just like you did when you were young. Puppies should see a vet once a month until they reach four months.
If you and your dog haven’t had a medical appointment in a while, make sure you schedule appointments with the doctor and the vet.
Getting healthy can be a daunting task. But a healthy lifestyle is crucial for both you and your dog. Use these suggestions and you can improve your health together.
If you live near our Chandler, North Valley, or Mesa locations, set an appointment with 1st Pet Veterinary Centers. We offer all the preventative services your dog needs to stay healthy, including physicals, nutritional counseling, weight maintenance, and dental, skin, and coat care.