Don't forget your dog when getting fit this year
Over Christmas, a third (33 per cent) of dog owners admitted their canine friend was treated to a dessert of chocolate, biscuits or other sweet snacks, reveals research commissioned by Direct Line. Half (49 per cent) confessed to preparing an entire Christmas dinner for their dog, and 7 per cent admitted their dog had even eaten the Christmas tree.
At a time of year when many people join gyms, cut calories and focus on improving their health, Direct Line reminds animal owners in the UK that pet health is just as vital a consideration as their own. The average dog needs around two hours of exercise every day, but herding or hunting breeds often need double that. Small dogs can be taken out for half-hour walks two or three times a day, while some toy breeds can get most of their exercise running around the home.
Just as some people are blessed with high metabolisms, requiring far less exercise than others to keep weight off, the same applies to dogs. Some have historically been bred for high-energy jobs such as herding or chasing game, while others are more suited to being cosy companions and consequently require less exercise.
Jack Russell Terrier
These breeds have traditionally been bred to do specific jobs like hunting, herding, and even trotting alongside carriages. Such active or sporty dogs require regular, vigorous exercise (almost double that of the average dog) and are great if you are looking for a jogging partner for the New Year.
These breeds are often utilised as watchdogs, or to do military and police work and, just like our special forces, need to be at peak physical condition, requiring both regular exercise and lots of mental stimulation to live a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle.
These breeds are so small that they can often get enough exercise running around the flat or house and make great companions for those less able to take them for long walks. It is recommended that these smaller breeds get out of the house at least once a day and a medium-paced half hour is usually a healthy exercise to aim. Under-exercising in small dogs is a surprisingly common problem with some toy breeds such as the Pug, which is prone to obesity and needs much more exercise than other comparably sized canines.
Adam Whiteley, head of Direct Line pet insurance, said: "Many of us eat far too much over the festive season, and often make resolutions to hit the gym in January. However, we often neglect to increase the exercise levels for our pets, who may have also gorged on holiday treats. A dog's health can be damaged by obesity just like a human's can. It is important that owners realise that pets may need more exercise to burn off their festive indulgences. It is important to appreciate the needs of different breeds and our tips on exercise by breed are a great starting point."