What the Weight of Your Dog Says about You
Fall is fast approaching and I have been enjoying every moment of it. There is nothing like changing your workout routine while the weather starts to cool off a bit. But lately, as I have been spending a considerable amount of time outside, I have noticed a startling trend. It seems as if every time I encounter an overweight dog, and glance at the owner, they are overweight as well. Now, that is not to say that every single overweight dog equals an overweight owner. We all know there may be a variety of reasons dogs may struggle with the pounds. However, I have noticed this enough that it made me think – what, if anything, does your overweight dog say about you?
Couch Potato, Pound Potato
One fact we all know is that a sedentary lifestyle leads to weight gain. It does not matter if you are human or canine; if you are not moving on a regular basis, and working to increase your heart rate, you are at risk of putting on the pounds. So, we have to get off the couch! One of the easiest ways to do this is to simply get up and move. Going for a walk or a jog, climbing up and down your stairs, or even dancing around the house increases our amounts of daily activity. Of course, we can’t forget the dog either; he would love to be just as active and probably needs as much (if not more) time outside as we do. Throw a toy for him to fetch or take him for a walk but encourage his activity as well.
According to the American Heart Association, the minimum amount of moderately intense activity is thirty minutes a day, at least five days a week. If thirty minutes each day is not possible, aim for a total of 150 minutes a week. This should be enough to get our heart rates beating a little more and help burn calories. And fortunately, we do not have to worry about getting it all in, full force, from the first day. Not only is it okay, it is best to ease into a new workout.
You are What You Eat
Nutrition is just as important as daily exercise. Dogs that are overweight because of poor nutrition are at a greater risk for heart disease, allergies, unusual behavior, or other diseases. Similarly, we in the exact same boat. For us, poor nutrition can lead to hypertension, diabetes, heart disease or high cholesterol. It can also affect our behaviors and overall mood.
Establishing good nutrition and healthy eating habits does not have to be difficult or frustrating. Following basic guidelines can simplify the process and make it easy for us to practice these good habits anywhere.
- At least half of the plate should be full of fruits and vegetables. Vary these to ensure the body is getting all necessary nutrients.
- A quarter of the plate should be a protein. Lean meat is best for the body.
- A quarter of the plate should be grains. Over half of the grains consumed should be whole grains.
The visual image created by the above recommendations allows us to picture how our plate should look at every meal. Of course, our dogs require different nutritional guidelines in terms of what to eat, but not necessarily in regards to how often. Just like us, dogs should have several small meals a day, should not eat large amounts of fatty foods, and should not overeat.
Dogs are wonderful pets and we take on a huge responsibility when we invite them into our homes and our families. We have an obligation to take care of them to the best of our abilities and that includes their weight and physical activity. Besides, we won’t find a better cheerleader or supporter when it comes to our own health. They will be right beside us every step of the way, ready with puppy kisses when we succeed with those thirty minutes of exercise or when we clean that balanced plate of dinner. Enjoy being a dog owner, knowing that your healthy lifestyle will be reflected in a healthy dog.