Summer, with its warm temperatures and sunny skies, is a time to get outside, enjoy sports and the outdoor life, to be active and to make the most of longer, brighter days. Summer is the perfect time to help our dogs (and ourselves) shed those extra winter pounds. 

More outside activity is not only good for your dog’s weight and overall health, but it can strengthen the bond between you and your furry companion. While 30-plus minutes per day of vigorous exercise is recommended, increasing your pet’s activity level by getting them off the couch and in motion can help. 

In addition, with all of the fresh vegetables available, you can substitute higher calorie snacks for healthy veggies. You can also supplement your dog’s meals with summer’s produce. Here are tips for helping Fido shed those extra pounds this summer. 

Tips for Helping Your Dog Shed Extra Pounds this Summer

First; Consult your Vet: As with humans, it’s a good idea to visit the vet and get clearance before beginning any major shifts in diet or activity level, especially if your dog is significantly overweight. The vet can identify any underlying health issues that might make exercising tough or inadvisable.

Take a hike: Set out on an energetic walk (you may have to work up to it). Explore a nature trail or hiking path together. Stop to rest and enjoy the vistas. Don’t forget to take the poop bags along. 

Play chase: Exercise doesn’t have to be hard-hitting. Simply running around the yard, park, or beach and chasing each other can be a source of fun and fitness. 

Bring their toys outside: A ball, a frisbee, a rope tug, a boomerang, and other favorite toys are the tools to a great romp or a game of fetch that will keep Rover active.

Take advantage of inherent swimming skills: Dogs are built to be natural swimmers–with tails like rudders and water-resistant coats. Some, like Retrievers and the Newfoundlands, are working breeds associated with water. Find a dog-friendly lake or beach and go for a swim. Surfing, pools and stand-up paddle boards can be enjoyed together, and kiddie pools are nifty for a non-rigorous cool down.

Bike ride together: Take your dog along when you bike ride. Be sure you have the proper lead and bone up on road safety before heading out.

Eat differently and consider supplements: Summer is a time to eat lighter and enjoy more of the carrots and green beans dogs like. Skip the high fat doggie snacks and help Fido get a daily dose of vitamins. Pets and humans can also benefit from a supplement like L-Carnitine or Omega-3 Fatty Acids.   

Get the kids involved: It can be good for the kids to get off the couch as well. Keeping the kids busy with their dog will help them stay more fit and active and ensure that activities are fun for everyone.

Since you’ll be more active outdoors in the summer heat, the staff at Union Lake Veterinary Hospital recommend bringing along a travel bowl and water supply when you head out. Watch for signs that your dog may be overheated, such as excessive panting, stopping, or licking at his paw pads.

Exercise and eating right is always more enjoyable with a buddy, so get out there with your canine best friend this summer and let’s shed some of those extra winter pounds.