Monday, April 16, 2012
Master and Canine Benefit from Healthy Lifestyle
Over the years, my faithful companion and I have always prided ourselves in staying physically fit but it was apparent that three years of decadent living had caused the addition of a few pounds in my K9 friend.
To begin the story, I should outline the underlying reasons that led this doggie athlete needing the services of a weight watchers support group.
Our household has recently undergone a series of significant changes that have completely altered the packs dynamics. The birth of two children has refocused time typically invested with an energetic duck dog, to more immediate and pressing concerns. Family time now limits free time with Onyx and ultimately the amount of daily workouts received. Severe cut in our long walks and afternoon swims, have made it challenging for her to maintain a healthy weight. With exercise minimized and food intake maximized, by toddlers who see throwing food as Olympic events, one can easily see the cards were stacked against her from the very beginning.
With opening day of waterfowl season now only 6 MONTHS AWAY, my once svelte puppy needs to begin preparing for what always promises to be a rigorous and demanding hunting season.
As an outdoor enthusiast, I have climbed some of the highest peaks in the Americas, including 22,843 ft. Mount Aconcagua, in Patagonia. These events require months of advanced physical preparations, well beyond the ordinary. Through these journeys, I have learned much about the human body and its strengths and weaknesses. Included in this knowledge is the critical understanding that before embarking on any exercise program be sure to be familiar with your limitations. People and pets, starting any exercise regiment, without knowledge of possible underlying issues, could potentially enter into a life-threatening situation. For the safety of you and man’s best friend, be sure to consult with the experts and have them assist in designing a healthy living plan for you and your pet.
For man and beast alike, good health basics involve finding a balance between food intake and exercise. Winter months are often a time of the year when the activity levels of most Mainer's drop off significantly. Harsh temperatures, force all but the hardiest of folks and pets to curl up on couches, enjoying hot chocolate and Christmas dinner leftovers. This is a time of year, when we start thinking that our pants have shrunk in the wash. With spring’s arrival, warm temperatures lure us back to the woods and waters and it becomes easier to increase our amount of daily exercise. It is certainly understandable, that at times in our lives, we go through periods of increased and decreased activity levels. If during these times, we fail to modify food intake, our waist sizes are certain to expand.
Why people “diet”, is something I have never understood. While most claim it is an effective way of losing weight, what they are missing is that once returning to eating, as done before the “diet”, all previously lost weight will return. Permanent weight loss is only achieved by a lifestyle change. Food choices for humans and canines are many and varied. To insure healthy food selections, create a balance between quantity and quality. Even nutritionally balanced food can be over eaten, leading to health issues. Make sure to read the recommended serving sizes on bags of dog food, outlining the amount that should be consumed daily by different sized animals. For extremely overweight animals, select dog foods specifically targeted to over weight or older animals.
Through the years, specific brands of dog food have fallen in and out of favor as companies have switched hands. The best thing for your pet is to religiously check ingredient and nutritional labels for changes. Avoid feeding dogs table scraps, as these typically contain a much higher fat content then a dog requires and can be to rich for most dogs to process, leading to intestinal complications. Dogs that appear hungry, even when provided with a sufficient amount of food, can be provided boiled green beans to fill their tummies without adding a significant number of additional calories.
We all understand that exercise is required to enhance well being. A dogs health depends directly on how much love and attention they receive. Considering this, how do humans prioritize their limited available time with their pets? Smart humans exercise with their pets. Any exercise program should be started slowly. Nothing is more discouraging then pulling a muscle or suffering an injury when first trying to get motivated. This doesn’t mean that exercise with your dog need be mundane or ordinary. While a walk in the park or throwing the tennis ball may seem to be effective, most sportsmen will find that tying a dogs exercise routine with something mutually enjoyable will make it easier to accomplish. Many find it more beneficial to supplement dog training and exercise programs with family outings and adventures (walks, hikes, camping, swimming, etc). Caring for a family pet is a valuable skill for all children to learn. Involving children in the process of pet care is important foundation upon which to build a lifetime of healthy living practices. Ultimately to be successful, in an exercise routine, set a time that is a component of the regular daily routine and something man and beast both enjoy.
A system of healthy living is the key in maintaining the ability to continue to do the things you love for years to come. The more you exercise the easier and more enjoyable it becomes and the more energy you will have to expand your routine. The strength to effectively paddle a canoe, hike into the backcountry or even haul out a monster buck are vastly improved with a few modifications to your diet and daily exercise routine. Many accidents and injuries can be avoided by having a physically fit body capable of dealing with minor stresses and strains. Pounds of additional weight are hard on human backs and knees and can lead to hip and joint problems in canines as well. Even the loss of a couple pounds can have a dramatic effect!