Things People Don’t Know About Canine Fitness Part 1
I recently started a series on the top things that people don’t know about dog food (part 1 and part 2 are here). Which made me think that a similar type of format would also work for canine fitness. After all, as readers of this blog will know, exercising with a dog can be so much more than just going for a walk, and the way a dog’s body will react and adapt to exercise is fascinating (to me at least). Each article in this series will present two items, in no particular order, and will last about 5 weeks. So with that said, here are the first two things that most people don’t know about canine fitness.
Dogs Can Not Out Exercise a Bad Diet
Like it is with people, dogs who are fed too much will find it difficult to keep lean, even if the dog is exercised a lot. Many pet parents tend to overestimate the amount of calories their dog burns from exercise each day, which can lead to over feeding and over treating.
A typical dog that is moderately active (up to 1 hour a day of mostly low intensity exercise like walking), will burn only 10-15% of its total daily calories through exercise. The vast majority of their daily calorie burn is from supporting the basic metabolic processes that the body needs to survive (e.g. breathing, digestion, cellular function). Even very active dogs will find it hard to burn more than 30% of their total daily calories with exercise. While consistent exercise is vitally important for a dog’s health and weight in the long run, exercise without an eye on diet, will often be insufficient.
For reference, the table below shows daily calorie expenditures due to basal metabolism and 1 hour of moderately intense exercise for dogs of different sizes.
|Dog Weight (lbs.)||Basal Calories||Exercise Calories||Total Calories|
This is not meant to suggest that exercise is a waste of time. Regular, vigorous (as intense as can be handled given a dog’s age and medical conditions) exercise is vital to having a healthy dog and in the long run, those extra calories burned through exercise can make a huge difference in a dog’s weight. However, as the data shows, exercise without a proper feeding plan, can easily fall short when it comes to keeping a dog at their optimal weight.
Dogs Will Benefit from a Mix of Strength and Endurance Exercise
Again, similar to fit humans, a fit dog will have a combination of strength and endurance capabilities and they should be trained to improve both strength and endurance in a balanced fashion. Many people think that exercising a dog means simply walking them or playing fetch or something similar. And these activities are great for building a dog’s stamina. However, a dog can really benefit from strength training as well, which can help to keep their muscles strong and supportive of their internal organs and bones and reduce injury risk when they are active. I have written about many different types of canine strength exercises in the past. These include hill training, weighted vests, the crawl, the high five, and tugging to name a few.
Keep these strength exercises in mind when you plan out your dog’s fitness plan and mix up their routine so it includes both strength and endurance activities.