By Samantha Drake
The typical Labrador Retriever loves to eat and his adoring family is all-too-often more than happy to unwittingly enable him or her into obesity.
Obesity is a huge health problem with Labs. But Labs aren’t going to put themselves on the road to a healthy weight. Worse yet, some Labradors are notorious for gulping down food so fast that it may seem they are still hungry and so we offer them more food. It’s up to us to embrace a better diet for them and encourage them to exercise more.
Healthy Labs weigh anywhere from 55 to 75 pounds; a fat lab can top 100 pounds. Extra weight can have a serious impact on a Lab’s health and life expectancy. Obesity dramatically increases a Lab’s chances of heart and liver disease, joint inflammation and arthritis, skeletal problems, metabolic and respiratory diseases and lowered resistance to disease in general.
If you think your Lab is overweight, begin by consulting with your vet to design an appropriate feeding and exercise regime. To prevent your Lab from becoming overweight, start off by making sure he or she gets lots of regular exercise.
Remember that, as with people, easing into a new exercise schedule and slowly increasing the intensity will help the dog adjust to the new level of activity and prevent injuries. Your Lab will love the extra attention – just go easy on the dog treats!
Activities both you and your Lab can enjoy together include:
Tennis balls work well for throwing and retrieving. Repeat as many times as the two of you can handle. Of course, you may have to take time out to teach your Lab to give the ball up once he or she brings it back to you.
Let Your Lab Run
Give your Lab the run of the yard or take the dog to an off-lease dog park every few days to burn off calories.
Take a Class Together
Enroll your Lab in an agility training class for a fun learning activity that will help your dog shape up and increase his or her mental alertness at the same time.