As the weather cools and we all enjoy longer and more strenuous walks with our dogs, it’s important to properly prepare for boosting your dog’s fitness level. Today we have a guest post from Dr. Albert Ahn, Veterinary Advisor at Myos Pet, about how you can boost your dog’s strength to improve your dog walking!
Fall is upon us, and it’s a great time to boost your dog’s fitness level and muscle health. Not only is the weather just right for squeezing in a bunch of outdoor activities with your four-legged friend, but also the timing is beneficial… winter often brings about an increased amount of sedentary behavior (since you can’t get outside as much or for as long thanks to the chilly temperatures!), resulting in muscle loss.
Prepping your dog for this time by focusing on muscle and strength can help ensure that your dog doesn’t lose as much muscle mass.
Why is it so important to preserve it? Muscle plays a huge (and underestimated) role in many of your dog’s body functions. It affects energy level, metabolism, movement, balance, and bone health, just to name a few. The more fit and strong you can keep your dog, the healthier he/she may be.
Wondering how to do this? Here are five strategies to boost your dog’s fitness and muscle health:
Get in some good exercise
Good old exercise! It really is a gamechanger for dogs in the same way that it is for humans.
Staying consistent with physical activity and exercise can help increase strength and maintain weight. Getting outside as much as possible is recommended; fresh air and sunshine can help reduce stress (yes, dogs get stressed out!) and can help boost mood.
Some exercise ideas to consider include walking, jogging, playing fetch, and practicing agility.
Surprisingly, even giving your dog a puzzle to play with can increase strength as it forces your dog to periodically shift weight while solving the puzzle.
If it’s too cold in your area to take things outdoors, a doggy treadmill could be helpful, although you MUST supervise your dog during this activity to avoid serious injury. If your dog is older or suffers from a joint or muscle issue like arthritis, low impact activities like swimming or hydrotherapy can be just-as-effective alternatives.
Implement a healthy diet
Maintaining a healthy weight can certainly help increase a dog’s fitness ability and support healthy lean muscle mass.
When at a healthy weight, dogs will have greater mobility and agility. At a heavy weight, they’re at greater risk of damaging joints, ligaments, bones and developing certain metabolic diseases such as diabetes mellitus.
The proper weight depends on factors specific to your dog like breed and size. I often emphasize that dog owners look for wholesome, nutrient-rich dog food options that have only gone through minimal processing.
A veterinarian can help you determine which diet is appropriate for your dog!
Supplement as needed
To keep dogs’ muscles healthy, I’d recommend incorporating a natural, muscle-supporting ingredient like Fortetropin®. This supplement has been clinically proven to increase muscle mass and reduce the risk of atrophy, meaning it’s suitable for both prevention and repair.
I frequently recommend it to my patients because of how essential muscle health is to overall health and wellness.
In addition to general care, it can be a helpful complement to treatments for arthritis, muscle loss, as well as post-surgery recovery.
Also, to reduce inflammation, you can incorporate other natural remedies like CBD oil, fish oil, and turmeric, which can help keep the joints lubricated. When combined with Fortetropin, they can help enhance your dog’s ability to continue exercising for strength.
Support rest and recovery
Recovering is crucial for overall fitness! Think about how you’d help yourself recover from the day and prepare yourself for the next: you’d want good sleep, healthy food, and a bunch of water!
So, put thought into these factors for your dog, too! Invest in a quality dog bed to help ensure quality rest; they make well-cushioned orthopedic models.
Lastly, keep the water bowl full so that your dog always has access to water! Water helps to keep the joints lubricated and cushioned, which makes movement easier.
If you’re looking for creative ways to hydrate your dog, try making your own dog popsicles!
Consider rehabilitation and physical therapy
Even if there are no underlying health problems with your pup, rehabilitation and physical therapy programs can be used to increase strength, fitness, and functionality.
Therapists can work with dogs to help them maintain mobility and alignment via modalities like PROM (passive range of motion) exercises, and special activities are incorporated to strategically improve muscle health, like stepping on inflatable disks, walking on underwater treadmills, and running through obstacle courses.
I hope that this article has inspired you to keep your dog active and strong this fall! There are so many ways pet owners can help improve their dogs’ overall health, and muscle health is among the most important. I highly encourage pet parents to make building up canine muscle strength a priority before the winter weather hits.