Walking for Weight Loss

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (2016), 54% of dogs in North America are overweight. It is a huge struggle that many pet owners have. Often the first thing that we have to do is to recognize that our pets are overweight, often a chubby pet is thought of as cute, and we need to change this mindset.In the exam room, many people will tell me that they are surprised that their dog is overweight because they are walked long and walked often. I recently read an article from Dr. Ernie Ward who discussed getting the most out of a walk when it comes to obesity. It is essential in a weight loss plan to appreciate that to lose weight a dog needs more than a casual stroll. I’ve taken and summarized some of the information from Dr. Ward’s article and hope it will help your dog get appropriately exercised; this is also something that will benefit us as well, we can bond with our dog and get exercise and fresh air.

The average pace that most dogs are walked is 15 minutes per kilometre. That is a stroll with frequent pauses, on average 1-2 stops/minute to allow your dog to sniff or pee/mark. A walk to lose weight requires a brisker pace without taking time to smell the roses.

Dr. Ward recommends starting the walk with the brisk/faster effort initially. Obviously different dogs need more exercise than others, and larger dogs need to walk faster than their smaller counterparts. It is ok for us to break into a light sweat, and we should feel like we are on a brisk walk without stopping. Don’t look down at your dog when they try to stop and smell something, continue walking ahead; you can tighten the leash without pulling or jerking it and use commands such as “keep up” or “come.” Dogs will recognize that this is a different type of walk and they will usually look forward to it. Dr. Ward suggests using a head halter as they are a tool that we can use when training dogs to heel during a fast walk it will also help them to keep focused. If it doesn’t go well the first time and your dog refuses to walk, it’s ok to allow them to go home and try the next day again; most dogs will learn to love an active walk.

Dr. Ward has created a chart for those couch dogs who need to start out slow, for most overweight or obese dogs that have no other pre-existing medical issues, he recommends starting with thirty-minute walks a minimum of five times per week.

A sample schedule follows
Week 1: 30 minutes total – 10 minutes brisk followed by 20 minutes casual pace
Week 2: 30 minutes total – 15 minutes brisk followed by 15 minutes casual pace
Week 3: 30 minutes total – 20 minutes brisk followed by 10 minutes casual pace
Week 4: 35-40 minutes total – 30 minutes brisk followed by 5-10 minutes casual pace
Week 5+: 35-60 minutes total – Try to do two 20-30 minute walks per day: 15-25 minutes brisk, followed by 5 minutes casual pace.

Written by Jane Corkum, DVM


The Importance of Microchipping Your Pet

Pets can get lost which can be a traumatic and possibly tragic event.  It’s important to have a collar and ID tag, but these are not foolproof.  Collars can break or fall off leaving your pet unidentifiable. This can be prevented with the use of a microchip. As noted in the Dartmouth Tribune in April 2017: A pet is lost every seven seconds One in three pets will go missing in their lifetime Only 2 percent of lost cats and 17 percent of lost dogs with ID return home When a pet gets lost, they are 20 times more likely to make their way back home when they have a microchip A microchip is a small chip that is encoded with a unique identification number.  It is no bigger than a grain of rice and implanted just under the surface of your pet’s skin.  The process is similar to receiving a vaccination through a needle and is virtually painless to pets.  Once implanted, the microchip remains between the shoulder blades just beneath the skin for the rest of the animal’s lifetime, becoming a permanent form of identification. Since it’s under your pets’ skin it can’t break or fall off like a collar or tag. The chip is powered by a scanner which sends a signal to the chip and receives the identification number stored on it.  A vet or shelter can use the scanner to read your pet’s chip.  With the identification number, your pet’s information is a phone call away. When your pet is microchipped, it is linked to a database with your contact info.  It is essential that you register the microchip and ensure your contact information is kept up to date.  If you move or change phone numbers be sure to update your information.  Microchips are reliable and use nationwide registries, but they depend on the information you provide. If you want to improve your chances of getting your pet back home quickly and safely microchipping is highly recommended.   Written by Tracy LeFler, Site Coordinator Edited by Janis Wall, RVT

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Last updated: March 22, 2022.

Dear Clients,

Our top priority here at Westwood Hills is the ongoing health and safety of our clients, their pets, and our dedicated team members that serve you and the community.

NEW: We kindly request that clients continue wearing facemasks during their visits to our hospital. Our staff will continue to wear masks, as they remain one of the most effective ways to slow the spread of COVID-19.
* *Facemasks are no longer mandatory in veterinary clinics (but still highly recommended) as per recent provincial guidelines.

Here is what you can expect during your next visit:

  • We ask that all clients keep their distance / practice social distancing.
  • Continue the use of debit / credit cards as the preferred payment method.
  • For those interested we will still offer curbside pickup. Please place your food and medication order 48 hours in advance.
  • We are constantly analyzing our day to day actions and we appreciate your patience. We will continue to implement procedures that are in the best interest of both you, our clients and our staff.

    If you are not feeling well in any way, or if you have interacted with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 we ask that you stay isolated and do not visit us at the clinic. If your pet needs medical attention please have a family member or friend bring in your pet or pick up prescriptions / food.


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    Thank you for your patience and understanding and we look forward to seeing you and your furry family members again!

    - Your dedicated team at Westwood Hills Veterinary Hospital