By Jim Tedford, Director of Animal Welfare Initiatives and Alliances
Like millions of us, did you resolve to get fit in 2013? Do you have a plan for making that happen? And what about your dogs…could they stand to lose a pound or two, as well? It’s a great time of year to take out a new “leash” on life! Walking for a half hour at least 5 times a week has proven to have tremendous health benefits. And, not just for we humans. Our canine companions can benefit from a little cardiovascular workout, as well. In fact, they may need it even more than we do. Not only will our dogs enjoy the physical benefits derived from a daily stroll, they will benefit emotionally, as well.
The need to walk and explore his territory is built in to your dog’s DNA. Failing to satisfy this need will likely result in a bored, unhappy pooch. Cabin fever often leads to problem behaviors such as chewing and inappropriate elimination. If you are a parent who has ever experienced a school closing snow day, you have some idea as to the ramifications caused by an idle mind. You don’t need that treadmill or a workout buddy when you have a dog!
By working with your dog to teach him appropriate etiquette, walks can be pleasurable teaching opportunities. If your dog drags you around (especially on icy sidewalks), consider products like an Easy Walk Harness or a remote training collar to teach proper behavior. Most dogs really want to please their people…they just need to be shown what is expected.
Even the fittest among us consumed more calories than usual throughout the holiday season. We humans celebrate nearly every special occasion with food and drink. No time like the present to stop and smell the roses (instead of the chocolate chip cookies). Let’s get up off the couch and hit the trail with our furry best friends! Or, at least hit the sidewalks…
Did you know that upwards of half the pets in the US are overweight? And, just like us, they are more susceptible to dreaded conditions like diabetes and heart disease? Not to mention the aches and pains from joints carrying around that extra bulk.
And, while we’re on the subject of getting fit, when was your dog’s last check-up at the veterinarian? One of the best ways to maintain good health is to visit the vet at least once a year for a thorough physical exam and boosters of standard vaccinations. Walking your dog or visiting dog parks offer much needed physical and mental stimulation, but they also expose him to other dogs who may not be as healthy as he is. Vaccinations provide an insurance policy designed to keep your pets happy and healthy.
Regular maintenance such as grooming, heartworm prevention and parasite control (internal and external) will also help keep your best friend healthy. Believe it or not, overgrown toenails can be a source of extreme discomfort for a dog. And, trimming them can feel a bit like an Olympic event. So, if in doubt, use the services of a professional groomer. Bathing your pet too frequently can cause dry skin and irritation, so only bathe him when absolutely necessary.
Thanks for reading this post, but stop wasting time! Grab that leash, attach it to your best buddy’s collar and hit the road. See you in about an hour!
Jim Tedford serves as PetSafe’s Director of Animal Welfare Initiatives and Alliances. Working on the front line of animal welfare for over 20 years, Jim has served as CEO for organizations in New York, Louisiana and Tennessee. Prior to joining PetSafe, Jim provided marketing and fundraising services to animal welfare organizations nationwide. Jim holds a degree in animal science from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Jim and his wife Ann share their “empty nest” in the Smoky Mountains with adopted dogs Bodie, Sam, and Lila and a formerly homeless macaw, Gipper.