4th February 2022
Burns Pet Food suggest that almost 51% of dogs in the UK are overweight. This startling statistic suggests that many dog owners are unaware that their pooches are carrying more weight than they should be.
Obesity in dogs can lead to other severe health complications like diabetes, joint pain and breathing problems to name just a few. We all want our dogs to live long, happy and healthy lives so dog obesity must be tackled to avoid your pet’s life span being potentially shortened.
Our partners, Dog Furiendly has teamed up with Burns Pet Nutrition, Run Wales and Paw Runner to design an activity programme called Tail Wag to 5K for beginner runners and their dogs.
The experts involved
Run Wales and Paw Runner’s expertise in running and canicross respectively means that the health of human and hound has been considered in these plans, making it easier for owners and their dogs to get fit together.
Whether you’ve noticed that your dog’s collar looks a little tighter or, you’re looking for something to help get your fitness back on track, this might be just the thing for you and your pooch.
After all, research has shown that people who commit to fitness with a partner or friend have greater success in their exercise endeavours. There’s no better friend than your dog so why not make them your training partner?
Is my dog overweight?
STEP 1: Check your dog’s ribs. If your dog is a healthy weight, then you should be able to feel their ribs under their coat and skin. If not, your dog could be carrying a bit too much weight.
STEP 2: Check their spine. You should be able to feel the length of your dog’s spine easily. If this isn’t the case, your dog might be overweight.
STEP 3: Check their waist and belly. You should be able to see your dog’s waist tuck in behind the ribs when looking down at them.
If you can see the outline of your dog's individual ribs and its waist is noticeably narrower than its ribcage, then your pet is underweight. But, if your dog’s waist is in line with the ribs or bulges out past them then it’s likely that they’re overweight.
Key tips to help your pooch lose the paunch
- In line with your vet’s recommendations, gradually reduce the portion size of your dog’s meals. Cut back a little bit every day so that your dog becomes used to eating less. It also helps to include meals that are high in fibre as this will help the dog feel fuller for longer.
- Cut back on treats. We know it’s hard especially when they bring out the puppy dog eyes hoping you’ll give in, but it’s for the benefit of your furry best friend in the long run. Only give your dog treats occasionally and make sure that treats are accounted for in their daily food intake. Just one medium chew can be the equivalent of 30 grams of dried food, so they add up quickly.
- Watch the serving size. The food intake of your dog should be based on their target weight and not what they currently weigh if they’re too heavy.
- Make exercise a part of your routine. Regular workouts and running off the lead can help your dog burn off excess calories and improve their mood and wellbeing.
Remember: If you are considering making changes to your pet’s diet always consult your vet before starting a new routine.
Running towards a better you!
Taking up running can seem like a scary and daunting prospect, especially if you feel out of shape, unfit, or if it’s your first time giving it a go! The Tail Wag to 5k programme will help you work up towards running a 5k, but in a gradual and progressive way that allows you to work at a manageable pace without overdoing it.
The challenge of completing a Tail Wag to 5k programme can help boost your confidence and self-esteem, as you prove to yourself that you can set a challenge and achieve a goal. Running is an easy way to improve your health; it can help you lose weight, is proven to benefit your mental health and requires very little equipment.
Get prepared to sweat it out with our top tips to start running with your dog.
The dos and don’ts of running with your dog
- Check with your vet before starting a new exercise programme with your dog
- Invest in a good harness that fits your dog properly to make them feel safe and more comfortable
- Warm up before runs and cool down afterwards. This goes for you and your dog!
- Let your dog have the freedom to jog at their own pace and allow regular toilet breaks.
- Always keep an eye out for excessive panting which is a classic symptom of overheating. If your dog seems to be panting a lot, let them rest and give them water.
- Take days off to recover, if both you and your dog are new to exercise then pace yourself.
- Remember poo bags to clean up after your pooch.
- Make a fuss of your dog and praise them for the hard work they’ve put in.
- Have fun! Jump in puddles, run through mud, enjoy the views and soak up the rain!
- Attach a lead to your dog’s collar as this can pull on their neck, making breathing difficult or even causing injury.
- Take your dog out for a run too soon after food. Always try to wait for about 2 hours to let your pooches stomach settle.
- Don’t run on roads for too long. The hard pavement can cause pain to the joints and paws.
- Worry about what equipment you need. Check out this video by Paw Runner that takes you through everything you need - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEpiIUExIXc
- Don’t push your dog to run faster or longer. If they seem like they are struggling to keep pace adjust your pace or stop.
Remember: This is a marathon and not a sprint!
On your marks, get set, go!
Sign up to Tail Wag to 5k now and run towards a healthier life for you and your furry best friend.