The answer is in the title of this blog post!
A sedentary or inactive lifestyle results in health problems for our canine companions as well as their human counterparts.
The most significant issue is the high prevalence of canine obesity that cannot be attributed to genetic or reproductive causes but to the sedentary lifestyle of both the owner and the pet.
Related canine health problems are similar to humans' and include:
There is a significant (inverse) correlation between canine body conditioning scores (BCS) and daily walking.
Obesity and inactivity in canines, and thus the deterioration of canine health, is a human management problem (and solution) since they are domesticated animals.
Dogs are sedentary during most of the day, and therefore rely on us, their owners or caregivers, for physical activity.
WHAT ARE THE REASONS YOU EXERCISE YOUR PET?
(OR what are the some reasons you don't or can't?)
Consider this post as inspiration to walk your dog more!
Ten research studies were used in developing this article. References available upon request
Although if you live on the west coast or in a place with hot temps, it's "summer-like" for the most of the year.
But around this time is when you will start to see more posts about leaving your dog in the car, dangers of heatstroke and walking on pavement. (I'd like to add a 4th message about taking your dog to the beach - STAY TUNED!)
Let's first talk about ground temperatures, though, when you take your dog outside for a walk. It doesn't necessarily have to be pavement either as dirt and sand can cause burns and problems.
In general, if it's not something that you would walk on barefoot, your dog shouldn't either.
If you're not barefoot, feel the surface with the back of your hand for 5-10 seconds.
It's a misnomer to think that your pet's paw pads are durable or tough enough to withstand increased temps.
Speaking of paws, there are a limited number of sweat glands there and your dog mainly dispels heat through panting. This could be a challenge if it's a hotter day and your dog is not conditioned to going out for a big walk or run - think "Weekend Warrior Syndrome" because it exists with pets as well.
Somebody recently posted on Facebook about heatstroke happening during a walk over Memorial Day weekend. Bystanders saw what was happening by a park and happened to have some ice to help cool the dog down. But it took awhile. She ended up going to the vet for IV dehydration.
This can happen in minutes with dogs and it happens in dogs of all sizes and breeds.
Brachiocephalic dogs with compromised breathing (i.e., bulldogs, pugs) are even more at risk.
Canine anatomy, particularly the musculoskeletal system, is remarkably similar to human anatomy.
The major difference (besides fur!) is the fact that we walk upright on two legs and they walk on all fours (quadruped).
“Joints” are intersections between one or more bones. The major joints of the canine skeletal system that you should be aware of in terms of location and “name” are: glenohumeral (shoulder), iliofemoral (hip), stifle (knee), and hock (ankle).
CONSIDERATION AND FUN FACT: If a ligament (primarily collagen, non-contractile tissue) tears, it does not repair (or reattach) itself! The dog may appear to be “healed” because the inflammation may subside, and / or they have reduced pain over time, but do not mistake this for regeneration of collagen fibers.
The more contractile fibers in a tissue the better. Muscles are primarily contractile tissues and little, if any, collagen. Collagen doesn’t contract and therefore isn’t considered an “active” body tissue in that sense. It is abundantly found in ligaments and tendons.
FUN FACT: In general, dogs have more skeletal muscle than people.
Excerpt: "OPTIMIZING FITNESS FOR PERFORMANCE IN DOGS" book.
(See my store for details) - ON SALE!
**BONUS** - As I posted online, there are MORE than 5!
In fact, this is an inconclusive list but a list that's been proven - ESPECIALLY #1 & #2.
Let's start with the #1 and most important: HEALTHY BODY WEIGHT! Yes, this probably means losing weight. Sadly the majority of pets (worldwide) are overweight, yet their owners don't think they are, which makes this even MORE of an uncomfortable situation. The more weight, the more stress on the body and the body's joints. Cutting back on treats (how about brushing, massaging and petting instead?) and even 10-20% of their feeding will make a huge difference.
#2 PHYSICAL ACTIVITY (aka exercise) - This should be "controlled" physical activity, which means exercises that are not just cardio (i.e., running off lead) but also include a strengthening component. And importantly, these activities are CONSISTENT.
#3 NSAIDs (Non-steriodal anti-inflammatory drugs) - Yes, these have come a long way in recent years. You would have no issue reaching for an Advil or Naproxen for yourself, right? If you haven't had a conversation with your doctor recently about these, it's time.
#4 HOME & LIFESTYLE MODIFICATIONS - These are exactly what they sound like: looking at how your pet eats, gets in/out of the car, on/off the bed, when they eat...etc. There are many little things (free or low-cost too) you can do RIGHT NOW that will help your pet live healthier and feel better. If you're not sure, ASK!
#5 SUPPLEMENTS - Just like with NSAIDs, if you haven't checked into supplements (what kind, how much...), you are overdue! Things like: fish oil, glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, collagen, avocado & soybean extract...etc.
#6 NON-FOOD & PHARMACEUTICAL OPTIONS - Physical rehabilitation! Having a consult is a small price to pay (literally) for your pet's comfort and will go a long way towards saving you money in the future. Using things like: heat application or cold (& knowing which/why), Laser, electrical stimulation (PEMF, Assisi, BEMER...), Range of Motion (how/why/when), and even good ol' brushing and grooming will help arthritic conditions.
Here's the kicker: THIS APPLIES TO THE PERSON READING THIS TOO!
What have you tried or are currently doing for your pet? Or for you?