Just like humans, your sheltie can become overweight and lethargic.  An inactive lifestyle is very unhealthy and can have many negative effects on your dog’s physical and mental wellbeing.   An obese dog is at a greater risk for skeletal stress, heart disease, cancer, canine diabetes and fatty liver disease to name a few.

How can I tell if my sheltie is overweight?  Three tell-tale signs include:

1.    You can’t feel his ribs.
2.    They have a sagging belly or there is no longer a slightly defined tuck in their tummy region.
3.    Your companion has difficulty breathing after minimal exercise.

The good news is if your shetland sheepdog has excessive pounds or even if he is a good weight, you can make/keep him physically fit by implementing a few diet and exercise changes.

To start, you need to carefully think about how much food you feed your pet.  This doesn’t only include their meals, but also any other morsels you provide throughout the day (I.E. dog cookies, human food scraps, etc.).  First, you need to find out what your dog’s ideal body weight should be for his size and age and then feed him the recommended sheltie amount of chow.  If you are feeding him too much, slowly decrease it to the right amount. 

Secondly, cut down on the treats. Canine biscuits and other goodies are high in calories and fat.  You should also be aware that certain food-brands are higher in calories than others.  Thus, you might want to consider talking to your vet for weight control recommendations if this is a problem.  Note:  If your dog is very active he may require a little more to eat than the recommended amount because he is burning more energy.

Once you have control over what he ingests, you will then want to work on increasing his activity.  There are many fun exercises you can enjoy with sheltie dogs that will help them burn fat, strengthen their muscles and joints and improve their cardiovascular health.  Good examples include:

•    Daily walks – Take a few 15-20 minute brisk walks per day (weather permitting).
•    Jogging – A mild gallop or trot for 10 minutes is a great workout (remember to find a speed that suits the sheltie pace)
•    Dog trials – Herding, agility training, etc.
•    Swimming
•    Games – Fetch

Getting and keeping sheltie pooches in shape is not difficult, it simply takes dedication to achieve.  Have fun with it.