FitDog Friday #4 – Keys to a Fit & Healthy Dog

Share Button

fitDogFriday_150x126Happy FitDog Friday and thanks for stopping by! Today we want to discuss the two primary keys to having a fit and healthy dog: exercise and diet. (You can also link up to the Saturday Pet Blogger Blog Hop at the bottom of this post).


We often say that “movement is life”, and it’s true!  Both humans and dogs (and most living creatures) were meant to move as a way to stimulate growth and metabolic functions.  Thus, it is pretty easy to understand why exercise is so important.  Whichever types of exercise you choose to do with your dog, the benefits (to both of you) are numerous.  By exercising regularly, you both will:

As great as exercise is for us all, it is only one part of the story. The other key is:


We think of diet in two ways:  how much to feed your dog and what to feed your dog.

How much to feed your dog

We have two expressions that we use in the human fitness community that are appropriate here:  “you can’t out exercise a poor diet” and “She

Foods to feed your dog

Foods to feed your dog

didn’t get those abs from doing crunches”.  Both of these sayings are meant to convey the simple fact that diet can impact body weight and leanness more than anything else, even exercise.

Why is this true?  Basal metabolism.  Basal metabolism is the rate at which your body burns calories just to stay alive and perform the most basic and necessary functions like respiration and circulation.  Believe it or not, just being a dog (or person) takes a lot of energy (calories).  In most cases, a dog’s basal calorie burn will be far greater than their daily exercise burn.  Some numbers might help illustrate this point.

A normal 50 lb. dog will burn somewhere around 725 calories per day even if they were bed-ridden and immobile, just to remain alive. They would burn somewhere between 50-100 calories a day extra if they exercised by walking or jogging for 30 minutes each day, depending on the pace.  (Note: the dog would also burn some calories with daily movement- walking around the house, going outside to the bathroom, etc.)

Of course if your dog is very active, they can burn a lot more calories. SlimDoggy Jack has days where he burns 30% or more of his basal amount.  That said, in most normal cases, calories burned directly though exercise, while important to achieving and sustaining long term optimal weight, are not enough to justify unmeasured feeding.  Make sure to measure your servings and account for treats!

What to feed your dog

This is can be a tricky question and we will be devoting a lot of future posts to this topic.  With respect to short-term weight loss, in theory, it doesn’t really matter what your dog eats as long as they consume the correct number of calories.  So if your dog is targeted to eat no more than 1,000 calories per day for their weight loss program, they could theoretically eat a bag of potato chips (or at least 1,000 calories worth) and still lose weight as long as they burned more than 1,000 calories total for that day.

563561_10151416354934792_2043114264_nBut this would not be a sustainable scenario.  The dog’s body, like the human body, needs a balanced diet including adequate protein and other macro and micro nutrients.  To best achieve this, your dog should eat as much ‘real’ food and as little processed and artificial food as possible – sort of like the Paleo diet- which focuses on eating real recognizable foods in their pure, not processed form.

Sound simple, right?  Unfortunately, it is not always so straight forward.  Commercial dog food labels can be a challenge to interpret.  For example, there are foods on the market that use chicken in the food’s name even though they may have little or no real chicken in the recipe!  And what about those mystery proteins that are often included in some dog foods?  When was the last time that you saw a “meat” grazing a pasture or “poultry” laying an egg?  Lastly, did you know that some foods contain artificial colorings, which have no health benefit and are believed to be detrimental to health…just because the food company wants you to like the way the food looks?!  Trust me on this, your dog does not care what the food looks like!  They see food, they eat food.  It doesn’t matter if the food is brown, yellow, purple or any other color.

We will be doing a long series in the future on dog food ingredients so stay tuned for that.  In the meantime, tell us what your favorite food brand and recipe is.  Have you read the label recently?  Do you know what is in your dog’s food?


fitDogFriday_avatarPlease enjoy our FitDog Friday Blog Hop brought to you by SlimDoggy and our co-hosts Peggy’s Pet Place and To Dog With Love. Join the Hop or just enjoy the links below – lots of fun fitness tips and advice!


pet-blogger-hop-badgeYou can also join the Saturday Pet Blogger Hop:
sponsored by Life with Dogs, Two Little Cavaliers & Nip & Bones)



Share Button


  1. I agree that on the surface it is simple – calories out more than calories in – there are so many more things to consider. While on a weight-loss diet it is still important that your pet receives proper nutrition.
    Jessica recently posted…Show Off Your Dog’s Waistline: Thin is InMy Profile

    • Yes you are correct, which is why you need to know 2 things about diet: 1)how much and 2)what to feed your dog.

  2. Oooo, looking forward to reading about dog food ingredients! Have a great Friday!

  3. Thanks for the info. You really are “what” and “how much” you eat!

    Our family will make sure that our dogs are properly fed and exercised. They are a little overweight but thinks to your site, we have learned the perils of them being that way.

    Happy FitDog Friday!

  4. We really like the advice here. I don’t think we monitor what we feed our dogs enough – guess that’s why they are a little chubby.

  5. Woof! Woof! Exercise and a good diet is very important. Every dog owner need to be educated about their dog food/treat calories and ingredients. Looking forward on your ingredient posts on Tasty Tuesday. Happy FitDog Friday. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar
    SUGAR: Golden Woofs recently posted…A Good Park For You And Your DogMy Profile

  6. Great tips, it’s true for us people and dogs too. And since our lives are so connected, if we’re taking care of ourselves we are probably taking good care of our dogs too.
    Peggy Frezon recently posted…FitDog Friday and Park DayMy Profile

  7. Another great post! I agree “movement is life”. You can always eat an extra snack as long as you are getting enough exercise. Besides it makes you feel good too!
    *high paws*
    Oz the Terrier recently posted…My Friday Finds and a Decision or TwoMy Profile

  8. We are very active but I had no idea how many calories I, as a dog, burn doing nothing…I still love being active so I won’t stop but I don’t feel so bad napping a lot after reading this!
    emma recently posted…Minnehaha Park | GBGV | I Hiked For Park Day | FitDog FridayMy Profile

    • Don’t feel bad about napping, but STAY ACTIVE! The calories that you burn with activity, over the course of a full year, can mean the difference between being fit and lean or 10 % or more overweight. They add up over time.

  9. I really look forward to your posts about ingredients. I hate sorting through those. One of my favorite foods changed their ingredients (actual meat to meat meal) and I switched. Then I read meat meal isn’t bad. My head spins!
    Bethany recently posted…13.1 Miles, 7 Parks & 3 Fit Dogs: Our Epic Park Day Urban HikeMy Profile

    • Meat is better than meat meal because it is in a less refined state. Both of these are far better than anything by-product.

  10. […] you to get outdoors often we’re joining up with  the Fit Dog Friday blog hop hosted by SlimDoggy,  Peggy’s Pet Place and To Dog With Love…parks and fitness go hand in […]

  11. […] here…Momz and I try to promote health and fitness for dogs through events like Park Day 2.0 and Fitdog Friday, and now we’ve found a great new tool, petMD University. Since I’m a puppy school dropout […]

Comments are now closed on this post.