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Woodbine Animal Clinic

Woodbine Canine Fitness Month

A photo of a woman walking her dog for canine fitness month

Pet owners want what’s best for their animals. We know they need love, shelter, and nourishment to be happy. But like many things in life, we can fall short and need to do better. According to the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, it’s estimated that between 50 and 60 per cent of our pets are currently overweight or obese.

It’s an alarming stat – and one that needs addressing. This time of year presents a great opportunity for a reset. April is Canine Fitness Month, which coincides nicely with the return of warmer temperatures and the chance to spend more time outdoors. Woodbine Animal Clinic veterinary technician Fernando is familiar with the high numbers of overweight and obese dogs. He says it’s easy to assume that they are a product of a sedentary life, though it’s important to note that medical conditions can also play a part in your dog’s extra pounds.

This is where your vet can give guidance.

“If a pet is gaining weight because it’s sedentary or simply can’t exercise as much are other pets, it is still possible to maintain a healthy weight by providing a personalized diet,” Fernando says. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

“Weight management takes a lot into consideration: age, breed, diet, lifestyle, and more. To give the most appropriate and accurate advice, it’s important to learn about all these considerations first. We always suggest booking a weight management talk with one of our technicians, which is free of charge.”

A better way and stronger bond

Ramping up activity is an integral part of your doggo’s journey to shed a few pounds. It takes a commitment on the owner’s part, but the benefits become obvious quickly. And it’s not just a thinner waistline. Exercise is as good for the soul as it is for the body – for both dog and human.

“When pets become more active, they not only start losing weight, but also have more energy and a friendly, happy attitude,” says Fernando. “My favourite thing about pets and pet parents exercising together is the bond they develop. You can tell right away when pets and owners do activities together. The way they look at each other and almost predict each other’s moves.

“It shows the undeniable bond that they have.”

Creative activity

Fernando recommends finding activities that both owners and pets can enjoy equally. It’s a bummer to have to do something that’s not fun, so finding that perfect activity for both parties make all the difference.

Walking aside, here are some activities to consider for those committing to better health and fitness:


Learning new tricks Active play – throw that ball, stick, or frisbee, and jog with them when they’re retrieving Hide and seek with daily allowance of treats Shadowing – if you have a dog that follows your every move, grab a toy and encourage them to do something like shuffle back and forth across the room with you Indoor or outdoor obstacle courses Playing in the snow (but we’re happy to hold off on that for the next six months or so!)

The idea is to find what works for you and your buddy. Dr. Jessica Scott and the entire staff at Woodbine Animal Clinic know the positive impact structured activity can have on an animal and its owner. While Canine Fitness Month is a great time to start a new routine, it’s critical that these lifestyle changes be maintained.

“We recognize how important it is for pets to stay active and the benefits that it brings,” says Fernando. “It has been shown that overweight pets decrease their life expectancy by about 20 per cent. We understand that pets are in our lives for not very long periods of time, but weight management will keep them with us longer. That is why we encourage our clients to ask for help by booking a weight management appointment with our technicians.

“You will be given the tools to help your pets.”

Celebrate this April by posting pics of your active pups using the hashtag #CanineFitnessMonth. Have fun out there!