Keeping your dog fit and healthy really is a no-brainer, and yet you're seeing as many unfit, overweight dogs as you see unfit, obese people. And yet there is a simple solution to both problems: combine a healthy, nutritious diet with regular exercise.
Feeding and your dog's health and fitness:
The sheer variety and amount of dog food that is available in your local supermarket is quite staggering. And for many pet owners it's difficult to know where to start.
Should I get the dry food, wet food, in a pouch? Feed canned food, raw, scraps, homemade, road kill? The short and most useful answer is always buy good quality food for your dog. Would you be content feeding your family, or yourself, on only the very cheapest of food? Probably not. However, a great many dog owners allow their dog's to consume the cheapest muck on the market.
A dog's nutritional needs are exactly the same as ours: A proportionally balanced diet of minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates, vegetable matter and fats are necessary to maintain good health.
If you're competent enough to create a nutritious an appetizing daily diet for your dog- then go ahead. This is how I've fed most of my dogs. But if you decide to use the supermarkets' offerings make sure that you only buy the Premium brands. Whether you choose wet, dry or canned, find one that your dog likes and stay with it. Any changes from dry, to canned, or to any other food type should be done gradually to avoid stomach upsets.
In general, use the manufacturer's guide, which gives a daily-recommended amount for the size of your pet. Only increase the recommended amount if your dog is looking on the thin side.
Treats are another food item that's heavily promoted by the supermarkets; for dogs and for us. Because we're fond of treats we assume that our dogs are, and we'd be right. Their treats like ours are usually high in calories. The more enlightened of us know that it's wise not to eat too many, but our dogs don't possess that knowledge. So, we need to know when to hold back on our dogs' treats in the same way that we do with ours.
Exercise and your dog's health and fitness.
All dogs whether they're young or old need exercising. How much exercise a dog needs is dependent on his breeding, his size, and his age. Many owners are led to believe that large dogs need more exercise than small one's. However, with some breeds the reverse of that is true.
Every breed of dog was originally bred to do some form of work, ranging from the highly strenuous sled hauling of the Spitz group of dogs, to the agility and intelligence required by a Collie to herd sheep. If you fit the exercise to your dog's breed type you won't go far wrong. For example Cocker Spaniels were bred to flush out game.
So, exercise a Spaniel where there are bushes, bracken, and the scent of game, such as rabbits, birds, etc. Not only does your dog get a physical workout he's also getting mental stimulation in to the bargain. Labrador's and Retrievers love games that involve retrieving: incorporate that in to your walks.
The quickest way to promote obesity in your dog is to confine it to the home all day. You're also decreasing your pet's life span, quality of life- and like any prisoner- driving it crazy with boredom.
Dogs' need to run and play, and off lead activity is better by far than the quick round the block, on the lead, exercise that many dogs are saddled with. Thirty minutes to an hour per day is all that's required to keep your dog in good shape, and it won't do you too much harm either.