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Helping clients keep their dogs in shape while everyone’s cooped up at home

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With social distancing and staying at home the new norm, everyone—including your clients and their pets—are experiencing head-spinning lifestyle changes. The silver lining is that your dog-owning clients are spending more time with their dogs, and can do more than ever to help get them into top shape during this downtime.

NEWStat spoke with Chad Dodd, DVM, a veterinary consultant and veterinarian at YuMOVE, who shared some quick tips you can pass along to your homebound clients through social media to help them maintain their dogs’ overall health.

NEWStat: What should veterinary professionals be advising their clients about keeping pets healthy in this time of working from home and sheltering in place?

Chad Dodd: As veterinary professionals, we can help pet owners keep their pets healthy by encouraging them to do three simple things every day: 1) feed them an appropriate diet, 2) exercise with them, and 3) keep them at a healthy weight.

Encourage pet owners to make the most of this time together by keeping their pets active. Now’s a great time to get creative and come up with a new daily exercise routine that includes a variety of activities that keeps pets moving. Exercising with pets provides benefits at both ends of the leash. If we overlook this, our patients might end up putting on more pounds, which can exacerbate underlying health problems, joint health being one of the most obvious. 

NEWStat: What are the main areas of concern, and what are the most important tips you have for each?

CD: It’s important that pet owners focus on both the physical and mental health of their pets. Exercise is one of the best ways to keep both mind and body healthy. Encourage pet owners to come up with two to three simple physical activities they can do together with their dog and schedule 15 to 20 minutes twice a day to complete these activities.

Have them do the same to help their dog exercise their brain: Something as simple as placing some kibble from their morning meal inside a food puzzle is a great way to help dogs exercise both their brain and body.

Keep the lines of communication open with your clients and encourage them to reach out if they plan to make significant changes to their pet’s diet or need some help coming up with exercise activities appropriate for their pet. 

NEWStat: What’s the most important thing owners can be doing for their pets right now?

CD: Advise owners to focus on measures that are in their control, things like keeping their pets active and eating healthy. By keeping pets on a healthy diet appropriate for their age and condition and keeping them moving, we can often help them from gaining weight, which could lead to other health problems like diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis. If we keep at it and make it part of our new daily routine, a nutritious diet, exercise, and keeping them at a proper weight will keep our pets healthy today, tomorrow, and for many years ahead.

Photo credit: © iStock/svetikd