With the current restrictions that are in place in the UK, and across the rest of the world too, dog owners are worried about the lack of exercise they are able to give their dog and how it will affect their health.
The health of our pets should always be our top priority, and a big part of their overall health is making sure they are the correct weight for their age, breed and size. If you’re not sure how much your dog should weigh, you can use this online calculator, or consult your vet.
When thinking about your pet’s diet throughout these times, firstly, it is important to make sure you have enough of their usual food and treats in the house, in case you do have to go into full isolation from contracting the virus. However, please be considerate of others and do not panic buy these items.
Consider your pet’s normal activity levels
Even if your pet is less active than normal currently, their bodies may take some time to adapt to the new lifestyle, so it’s best that you don’t immediately cut down their portion sizes. Some dogs will always need more food than others and the current situation won’t change this. Your pet’s daily activity levels should be your guide.
If you think your pet is not getting the same amount of exercise, it’s ok to slightly reduce the amount of food you’re giving them. A 5% to 15% reduction would be appropriate but keep checking your pet’s weight and overall condition regularly.
The easiest way to reduce your dog’s calorie intake is to reduce the amount of treats they have on a daily basis. If you usually give your dog two treats a day, reduce this to one. You can also change up the treats you give them, by trying healthier and lower-calorie alternatives. My dog absolutely loves cucumber and raw carrot, for example.
How can you give your dog more exercise during ‘lockdown’?
The current government guidelines (as of 30th March 2020, 1pm) is that you are allowed out once per day to exercise. This must be from your home, and you are not allowed to travel elsewhere to do this exercise. If you live alone, make sure you use this allowance every single day to give your dog a good, long walk. If you live with others, that are capable of staying home alone or walking the dog, we would recommend you using your daily exercise allowance individually. You can indeed go out together for a walk, but by using your allowances separately, your dog will be getting much more exercise. It’s also a great opportunity for you to spend some time apart!
If you have a garden at your home, make sure you are encouraging your dog to take frequent trips outside. Not only will this give them chance to use the toilet, but also let off some energy. It’s also a great idea for you to go outside with them and perhaps throw a ball, take their favourite toys outside, or just spend some time with them. Fresh air will do everyone good.
Please remember, when you are out walking your dog, make sure you adhere to the guidelines and keep at least 2 metres away from others. Keep your dog on their lead at all times to reduce the risk of you coming into contact with other dog walkers. It is also extremely important, now more than ever, to wash your hands as soon as you get into the house after your dog walk.