5 Tips to Keep Your Pup Physically Fit

Is your dog looking a little roly-poly these days? Is he starting to waddle? Is his belly hanging lower than it used to? If you answered yes to any of these questions, your pup is likely overweight. And while a pudgy pup can be cute and all, it’s actually quite detrimental to their health.

Yet, obesity in dogs is not all that uncommon. Veterinarians suggest that nearly 60% of pups are overweight. And, it seems that, as Americans, we love it. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention shares that in January 2024 alone, there were 0.2 billion views of dog-related videos tagged #fatdog (169 million), #chonkydog (11 million), and #fatdogsoftiktok (14 million). While fat dog videos seem to be less common than fat cat videos, they sure do highlight a big problem—pet obesity is a serious concern.

The Common Causes of Dog Obesity

Before we get into tips on how to help your dog reach a healthy weight, let’s agree on what’s causing dog obesity in the first place. And we’ll warn you: The answers often point back at us, the human-dog owners.

  • Overfeeding: Giving your dog more food than he needs, especially treats, can pack on the pounds.
  • Lack of Exercise: Not having enough playtime or walking can lead to weight gain. Dogs need to move to stay fit.
  • Human Food: Feeding your pup table scraps or foods high in fat can contribute to weight problems.
  • Age: Older dogs are less active and have slower metabolisms, making gaining weight easier.
  • Lack of Portion Control: Not measuring your dog’s food can lead to overeating. Always use a measuring cup.
  • Breed Predisposition: Some dog breeds are more likely to gain weight than others. Know your breed’s health risks.
  • Health Issues: Certain medical conditions can cause weight gain. Check with your vet if your dog is gaining unexpectedly.
  • Inadequate Nutrition: Cheap or low-quality dog food can lack nutrients, leading to overeating and weight gain.

5 Behavior Changes for a More Physically Fit Fido

Helping your dog stay at a healthy weight will require some changes from you—their favorite human. And, it’s not really a set-it-and-forget-it type of strategy. Just as with humans, it’s a constant effort to stay healthy and keep the weight off. This said, we have put together some recommendations on what you can do to help your pup stay physically fit.

1. Regular, Engaging Walks 

Taking your dog for regular walks is more than just a potty break; it’s an adventure. Aim for at least two walks daily, making them long and engaging enough to increase your pup’s heart rate. Explore new paths, encourage sniffing, and play fetch along the way. This keeps their mind stimulated while burning calories. Remember, the goal is to make every walk an exciting exploration, not just a routine stroll.

2. Portion Control and Healthy Treats 

Overfeeding is a common mistake. Start by measuring your dog’s food with a measuring cup and sticking to recommended portions. Swap out high-calorie treats for healthier options like carrots or apples. Treats should not make up more than 10% of your pup’s diet. Also, consider using a portion of their daily food allowance as treats during training to ensure they don’t eat extra.

3. Interactive Playtime 

Interactive playtime isn’t just fun; it’s a workout. Engage your dog in games that stimulate both its body and mind, such as tug-of-war, fetch, or hide-and-seek with treats. These activities strengthen your bond while ensuring your dog gets enough physical exercise. It’s a win-win that keeps your dog’s weight in check and their spirits high.

4. Consistent Exercise Schedule 

Set a consistent daily exercise schedule. Dogs love routine—they thrive on it. Knowing when to expect their walk or playtime can make them more enthusiastic about the activity. Consistency in their exercise routine helps with weight management and behavior, as a well-exercised dog is a happy dog. Ensure the schedule includes activities that vary in intensity and type to keep things interesting for your pup.

5. Educate Yourself on Dog Nutrition

Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to feeding your dog. Spend some time learning about dog nutrition, understanding the needs of your breed, and choosing the right food for their age, weight, and health condition. Avoid foods with fillers and high fat, opting for balanced diets that support weight management. And, be sure to avoid toxic foods that can make your dog very ill. Sometimes, consulting a veterinarian, a canine nutritionist, or a wellness associate at Pet Evolution can make all the difference in your dog’s diet and overall health.

Helping Your Dog Stay Physically Fit Has Health Benefits For You, Too

You may notice that once you start following our tips, you also feel better. That’s because when you get out and walk with your dog, you also get exercise. The Mayo Clinic suggests that humans get 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. So, if you walk your dog twice a day for at least 15 minutes at a time, you’ll be getting in a much-needed cardio workout as well.

But there’s more to it than just exercise. When you start feeding your pup healthier food, the chances are that you might start eating better. Plus, all that extra time with your pet is good for you. It boosts brain activity and releases endorphins—those happy chemicals—that make us feel good. 

So, the message? The more you do good things to keep your pet healthy, the healthier you will likely become. 

Pet Evolution is Committed to Creating Healthier Pets 

At Pet Evolution, love, health, and longevity are our mission. From grooming services to healthy food options, we’re here to help you create your pet’s best life. Check out our map to find the Pet Evolution nearest you. We encourage you to come on in and talk to our staff about keeping your pup physically fit. And, bring your pet along for the visit! We can’t wait to meet you both and help your pup feel better, each and every day.