Mask on, mask off. Social distance or no. The pandemic may be heading out, but things are no less complicated. It’s been a tough year. Missing our family and friends, tired of being cooped up. Our healthy eating habits have gone by the wayside and a lot of us have put on the dreaded “Coronavirus 15.” Too much Netflix, HBO Max, and Amazon all while stuffing our faces with too much food. But the one thing we could count on was that our pup(s) was sitting there with us, watching Netflix and partaking in all that extra food. That’s right, man’s best friend is now man’s best bigger friend.
During this period, most of us have taken the time to really bond with our pups and gotten to spend quality time with them, which is awesome, but we tend to show our love the same way our mothers showed us love when we were kids. We feed them. We give them treats. We give them scraps. We let them lick the plate. If we’re not careful we’ll love them so much they’ll burst (literally!).
So as things are “getting back to normal,” let’s try and give our furry pals the best love that they could get — good health. And just like us humans, it’s a matter of diet and exercise.
Being honest with yourself, take a look at your pup and assess their body shape. While they are standing, look at them from above. Your dog should have an hourglass shape, meaning there should be a taper after their ribs. You should be able to run your hands down the sides of their torso and feel their ribs laying under just a layer of fur and skin. Don’t worry – if that’s not what you see and feel, it can be fixed.
If your dog is overweight it can be tough on them physically, just like it is for us, but don’t let that confuse you. If you’re overweight by 2 pounds it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but to your dog, depending on their size, that could be like 15-25 pounds for a human. That’s a lot of extra weight to be hauling around!
That added weight can negatively impact your pup’s health. It could bring on Type 2 Diabetes. It could cause severe joint pain. Think of the back pain they may experience jumping up and down from the couch. Because their spines are horizontal, that extra weight can bring on disc or nerve problems. The extra fat also releases hormones that increase the inflammation in your pup’s body. All these problems can reduce their life expectancy and increase their medical costs. This isn’t what you meant to do when you gave Bella a snack from the table. You just wanted to show how much you loved her. And YOU STILL CAN… you just need to change it up a bit.
Try cutting back on the scraps and treats, or at least change up the type of treats. Try raw carrots, frozen green beans, apple slices or chicken bits (without the fat). Put them on a feeding schedule and monitor the amount of food you give them. Keep track of what they’re eating. You might be surprised by how much they were eating before!
Then if you really want to get crazy, help them get some exercise (you know you probably could use the exercise too). Take Fido for a walk or run, play fetch at your local dog park, let him go swimming in the lake. SQUIRREL!!!! Or let them go chase a squirrel! Since you’re probably going back to work at some point, make the most of this time with them. And if you haven’t already, consider hiring a dog walker or taking them to a dog daycare where they can make new friends to play with. They won’t even realizing they are getting exercise, and you won’t have to worry about the transition when you’re back at the office.
Let’s show man’s best friend that we are dog’s best friend.