Curbing Dog Obesity One Fun Activity at a Time

dog obesity

Curbing Dog Obesity 

In the last decade the United States has seen obesity become a huge issue for society as a whole. Children, teenagers and adults are overweight and experiencing health problems due to our poor eating habits and lack of activity. Our nation is continuously working on providing healthier options and educating the public on food consumption. Who knew this issue would directly translate to our pets.

What YOU Need to Know: Between 20 and 40 percent of all dogs seen by veterinarians in the United States are considered overweight, and many are clinically obese. When a dog is obese they lose speed and stamina, which makes any movement difficult.

Furthermore, a dog can become heat intolerant, where they cannot regulate their body temperature, which can be a serious problem in Miami. Digestive disorders can develop as well.

Carrying extra weight puts more stress on joints, bones, and ligaments causing permanent damage to their frame. In addition, lack of environment change and activity will increase boredom and destructive habits.

Our mission at Equipaws is to keep your pet Fit, Healthy and Happy. Here are some great ideas to start an active journey, to get you and your dog moving! These activities will strengthen the bond between you and your pet, give them mental and physical stimulation and keep your pup in good spirits.

15 Fun Activities for you and your dog:

1. Obedience Class: No matter how well-behaved your pup, Fluffy can always use a brush up on manners. Obedience class offers helpful tips on handling and commands for both owner and dog.This is an opportunity to socialize your dog and strengthen the trust between you two. We recommend Applause Your Paws for enriching discipline for you and your dogs.

2. Bike Ride: Try cycling with your pooch. Walking or jogging may be too slow of a pace for your dog. Having your pup run along side while you cycle is a great trick to get them moving. Be very careful where you attach the leash to the bike. This activity may take some practice and improvising.

3. Hike: Explore your surrounding area! Miami may not be the best neighborhood to “hike”, but seek out new trails in a Nature Preserve or National Park. Dogs love to see, smell and hear new things and a new environments keep them alert and motivated.

4. Doga Session This is a non-traditional yoga session for you and your canine. Doga is explained, “Through acts of meditation, gentle massage, and stretching, doga practitioners seek to achieve a greater harmony with their dogs.” This is an opportunity for the human and dog to work as one unit. Although, if your dog is hyper and can’t stay still this may not be the best option

5. Canine Freestyle Routine: This is a form of obedience and movement training that illustrates the beauty of the dog movement and learning to work as one team. Canine Freestyle is a medium meant to be creative, and visually illustrate the trust between handler and dog. Think synchronized swimming for dogs.

6. Tag or Hide and Seek: While pet sitting this is a favorite game you can play indoors or out. Running up and touching the dog and running away does the trick. They will chase you around the kitchen island or through out the back yard. Dogs love the chase. This gets the owner and dog active.

7. Fetch: Have you ever heard of a chuck it? It’s a tool that acts as a slingshot for a ball, allowing humans to throw a long ball for fetch fanatics. A great tool for fetch in the park and will save your throwing arm.

8. Dog Walk: Having a dog and going for a stroll go hand in hand. It provides a potty break and fresh air for your pup. Humans are creatures of habit, so beware dogs can get bored on their everyday walk. Change your path, tour different neighborhood or go explore the nearest town. You and your dog will love the new sights, sounds and scenery.

9. Frisbee: A backyard game of Frisbee is a nice change of pace from fetch or a walk. Your pup is jumping, running, dodging and working all of their senses for that mid-air Frisbee catch! Plus a Frisbee is a lightweight toy that can easily travel anywhere.

10. Dive In: A pool is a refreshing place to play catch and splash around. In the Fall, many pools in the close for the season and host a doggy play day. This is when canines take over, all dogs small and large are welcome to jump in and play in the water for the day. This is wonderful socializing opportunity and a out of the ordinary activity for your pup.

11. Agility Class: Find an agility class in your area and teach your dog to handle any obstacle. They will be challenged with running up and down boxes, traversing through tunnels and hurdling jumps. It’s a perfect challenge for an eager and active dog, plus practices good handling manners between human and dog. 

12. Herding Class: Perfect for the working & herding dog. These specific breeds love to work, it allows them to use their instincts and release built up energy. The American Kennel Club is a great place to start for more information on requirements, testing and trials.

13. Adventure: Take your pup on an adventure with you. Why not take a vacation, trip or visit a new city with your best friend in tow. Research accommodations before you go, but most places have dog friendly hotels, restaurants and parks.

14. Dog-Friendly Restaurant: We live in a dog loving city with many outdoor restaurants and cafes who are pooch friendly. If you are going out, take your dog too. You both will enjoy the company, but stay away from the table scraps, as it defeats the purpose of staying active. Take a look at our posts on dog-friendly restaurants in Miami for some ideas!

15. Beach: Florida offers a beautiful beach front we have access to everyday. Take advantage and go explore with your pup. Anytime of day it is beautiful with the salty breeze, sand between your toes and waves singing in your ear.

16. Flyball:Flyball is a relay race that requires a dog to race over four hurdles, catch a tennis ball that has been released from a spring-loaded launcher, and then race back over the hurdles again.” This is a wonderful activity for energetic dogs who love fetch, are attentive and social.

17. Visit People in Need: Patients at a nursing home, hospital or rehabilitation center love the presence of a pet. Visits from pups can dramatically help the mood of patients. You and your pet may need to become certified for this activity. Research Animal-assisted activities (AAA).

18. Support Your Pup’s Health While Buying Local: Equipaws partners with a few local businesses, who provide all natural dog food to the community. They agree that portion control is a real issue among pet parents. Dogs always act hungry or beg, so we give them food. We have to train ourselves as pet parents to rid that habit. Consequently, the habits begin with you. A few snacks and table scraps can quickly pack on the pounds.

In Miami, you and your pup have a gorgeous backyard to go explore together. Don’t let your pup fall into bad habits. We Take advantage of these excellent ways to keep your dog Fit, Healthy and Happy. If you don’t have the time give your pup regular exercise Equipaws can help! We offer dog walks, runs and daily adventures. Email us at info@equipawspetservices.com or call 305.794.3733 for more information!

Six Reasons Your Pets Should Live Indoors in Florida

Pets should live indoors in Florida

Why your pets should live indoors

Whether our pets should live indoors or outdoors is usually a very controversial topic. There is the argument that dogs and cats were born wild and therefore should remain outdoors in their natural world. However, the dogs and cats we bring into our lives now have lost most of what made them wild originally. Although their natural instincts are still present they are muffled by their need and desire for human interaction.

Even the pets that shy away from human interaction are still influenced by our presence, and the connection affects their ability to survive in the wild as they may have thousands of years ago. In the world we live in today and with how dependent our dogs and cats have become, it is no longer safe to keep our beloved pets outdoors. If you aren’t convinced here are some major reasons to leave your pets inside.

Weather

Even with expert opinions, many weather conditions remain unpredictable and make outdoor living for most pets undesirable. Drastically high or low temperatures can be fatal to even the most tolerant pets. Dogs and cats cannot sweat, so cooling down in hot climates is not done as easily as it is for humans and the risk of fatal heat stroke is all too real. In cooler climates, once temperatures drop below freezing, outdoor pets risk frostbite, which, if the outcome is not fatal, can lead to loss of extremities.  Storms are also a major concern, especially here in the Sunshine State. In Florida, more people are killed by lightning each year than by sharks! A pet getting struck by lightning or swept away in the high winds or flooding of a hurricane becomes a harsh reality.  

People

In a highly-populated world and in the fast-paced society most of us live in, animals are at risk to harm from humans. The harm is typically unintentional; however, the reality is we live in a world revolved around humans. There are more cars on the road than ever and animals are often subject to hit and runs. More often than not they are left there injured, helpless, and alone.

Although few, there are instances in which people intentionally harm animals. As animal lovers,  it’s hard to imagine there are people out there who dislike animals, but leaving our pets outdoors leaves them victim to acts of animal cruelty. Unfortunately, we cannot change people’s behaviors, but we can protect our pets from unnecessary pain.

Herbicides, Insecticides, and Pesticides

If used properly most herbicides, insecticides, and pesticides should not be toxic to animals. However, the constant pursuit of getting the perfect lawn or garden often leaves the person using such products oblivious to the harm they are causing to those around them. A wandering, curious pet may stumble across an unattended product or they may be exposed secondhand to a product that was spray on an area they wander upon. Most products ingested by pets can lead to severe abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and sometimes death.

Poisonous Plants

Sometimes the products we spray are not the most toxic thing about the plants in our yards. There are a number of ornamental plants that are toxic to pets that people don’t know about. Some common, poisonous plants include, but are not limited to, azaleas, daffodils, tulips, nightshade, lantana, and sago palm. Without the privilege of having hands, pets are left to explore with their mouths. Ingestion of these plants can lead to typical symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, but more severe cases can lead to coma and death within days.

Rodenticides

Without question, direct ingestion of a rodenticide is extremely toxic to pets, but the secondhand effect can be just as dangerous! Using rodenticides is a quick fix to a nasty problem and there is no doubt that it does the job eliminating rodents from an unwanted area. The issue is what happens to these rats and mice once they are eliminated. If a pet stumbles across a dead rodent, more often than not they will eat the easy prey item. Even though the rodenticide is not directly ingested it still remains highly toxic to animals and often leads to death of our furry friends.

Dangerous Animals

Another thing people overlook when they choose to let their pets roam freely outdoors is that they are subject to injury from our wildlife. Pets are curious creatures and their connection to the human world has left them fearless of many predators out there. Often people think the solution to this problem is to eliminate the harmful wildlife in the immediate area, but let this be a reminder that it is ILLEGAL to cause any intentional harm to wildlife! If someone is caught harming wildlife they can face jail time and a hefty fine!

  1. Venomous spiders and snakes should be a concern to pet owners who opt to leave their pets outdoors. There are two venomous spiders (black widow and brown recluse) and six venomous snakes of concern in Florida (. If both a snake and spider bite go untreated they can lead to a slow, painful death. 
  2. Bufo toads, commonly known as Cane toads, are also a species of concern. The poison, a scared toad releases, can be deadly to a pet if too much is swallowed. Lives can be saved if a pet owner immediately rinses the poison out of their mouth and rushes them to the vet. However, if a pet is outside and left unattended, a poisoning can go undetected and a life could be lost. Learn more about Bufo Toads.
  3. Although uncommon, outdoor pets can become prey to larger wild predators. For example, here in Florida, cats and small dogs can become a food item for an opportunistic eagle, panther, coyote, alligator, etc. These instances are rare, however if the opportunity presents itself it is a possibility. They are just doing what they need to do to survive, so it is the owner at fault and not the animal taking advantage of the situation.

Dangers to Wildlife

A matter that is often overlooked is the negative influence outdoor pets can have on our native wildlife. According to a 2010 study conducted by the University of Nebraska, it’s estimated that cats are responsible for over 4 billion animal deaths every year. A large portion of their kills are targeted towards native wildlife, such as birds, squirrels, rabbits, lizards, snakes, and frogs. Many people don’t want to admit their cats could do such a thing, but as mentioned before some of their natural instincts are still present.

Cats aren’t the only culprits to killing wildlife. Dogs have also been known for their fair share of killings. Without the proper supervision, these free-roaming pets are free to do as they please and could be responsible for decrease in native wildlife populations.

Keep Your Pets Safe- Keep Them Indoors

When we make the decision to let a pet into our lives, we make the decision to let them into our family. If we would do anything to keep our family members safe, why shouldn’t the same be done for our pets? We encourage all pet owners to take time out of their busy lives to give their furry friends what they are craving; quality time outdoors with the owner they love, a roof over their heads, and a lap to curl up on at the end of the day.  

Photo credits:

Beat the Heat! How to Exercise Dogs in Hot Weather

exercise dogs in hot weather

Beat the Heat: Keep Your Dog Healthy and Active in the Miami

In Miami we are faced with sweltering heat year round and a dilemma: how to exercise dogs in hot weather safely. The boiling sun and tropical moisture can make any physical activity daunting. As animal lovers, Equipaws Pet Services stresses a consistent exercise routine for most pets, but we want your dogs to be able to play and exercise safely despite our hot and humid weather.

Our dog walkers provide daily dog walks and runs for our pack year round because we have found ways to beat the heat and keep our pups fit, healthy, and happy safely. We take all precautions when exercising and found the activities listed below have been very successful. Take a look!

How to Exercise Dogs in Hot Weather:

It’s Too Hot!: There’s never an excuse for lack of playtime. Inside your cool air conditioned home, get your dog active with a chew toy or ball. Most dogs loves to fetch, so throwing around a ball inside for a while is a fantastic way to keep them moving. Warning: move any breakable items!

Strut Your Stuff: The most common way to exercise your dog is walking and we live in the best place to do it! Take in the beautiful Miami evening, enjoy the cooler part of the day and soak in the paradise right outside your door. To get you started, here is a list of local parks that are very dog friendly:

  • Peacock Park, The Historic Barnacle Park & Marinas (Coconut Grove)
  • Brickell Key (Brickell)
  • Margaret Pace Park (Downtown)
  • Kennedy Park (Coconut Grove)
  • Tropical Park Bark Park
  • Key Biscayne’s Hobie Beach

All of these areas are close to or on the water, which provides gorgeous views and a healthy breeze. If you’re not interested in going far, head out to your backyard or neighborhood and hit the streets for a stroll.

dog runner Miami

Run Fido Run!:

If you have a fit pup like our sweet Leia (pictured) and enjoy dog running, give them a good challenge. A nice jog around the neighborhood is good for the fit pups’ soul. Be sure to stay in the shade and keep an eye on their breathing. Also practicing fast to slow intervals will allow them to catch their breath and enjoy a potty break. If running, be prepared with water for both you and your pup. If your dog is a beginner, start slow and work your way up with length of time and speed, and of course, always ask your veterinarian if you can start a running regimen.

 

hot weather play ideas for dogs

Take a Swim:

Lucky enough to have a pool like our sweet Lacey does? Take advantage and play fetch where your pup has to jump into the water to retrieve a toy. If your dog is hesitant, jump in with them! Swimming is a great workout for humans as well! If the pool isn’t your scene, take a dip in the ocean. Dogs love splashing around in the waves. Check local beaches that are dog friendly before going on your adventure. (Bark Beach at North Shore and Haulover Park, both located in Miami Beach, as well as Hobie Beach)  

 

hose down dogs

Hose them Down:

Our friend Rosco loves a good dose of water, and your pups might, too! Spray your dogs down before their run with a garden hose (make sure the water is cool before spraying) or for a lighter dose, try a spray bottle, which will give them a cool misting. Do this before and after walks or runs to prevent the development of heat stroke. Not all dogs prefer to be wet, but as their caretakers we must do what’s best for them despite how they might feel about water. 😉

Helpful Heat Products – Proper Preparation for Exercise:

  • Water bottle
  • Water bottle holder with clip
  • Pop up or adjustable bowl
  • Spray bottle
  • Towels (use to dry off dog)
  • Life jacket (if swimming in pool or ocean)

Remember, dogs, just as humans, get bored or lethargic if kept inside with lack of movement or activity. Not to mention, zero exercise can do a number on your pups’ health. In the heat of the summer or those hot fall days that find us, pup parents still need ways to get moving!  Dogs need new smells, sights, sounds, and activity just as humans do. Plus you get the benefits of the extra calorie burn too! Before beginning an exercise routine, consult with your vet on what is a healthy amount for your pup as this will vary with age, breed, size. You can also make your pups a tasty frozen dog treat to reward a job well done! Check out our frozen dog treat recipes here.

No time for a dog walk or run? Equipaws Pet Services’ dog walkers and dog runners are happy to help! Please call us at 305.794.3733 or email us with questions at info@equipawspetservices.com. We look forward to keeping your pet fit, healthy, and happy responsibly!