Struggling to Stay Fit? Your Best Friend Can Help

Running or walking regularly with your pet will improve both your health and his or hers.

PETS & PEOPLE

Struggling To Stay Fit? Your Best Friend Can Help

(NAPSA)—The motivation to get fit may be right at your feet—literally. Similar to a human “workout buddy,” pets can provide the necessary push for you to go out and get moving, improving your health and that of your four-legged friend.

Just as the obesity rate of people has risen, the Food and Drug Administration says that about 20 to 30 percent of dogs in the United States are overweight and 5 percent are obese.

There is hope, however, especially if dogs and their owners join forces. In a study comparing the weight loss of dogs and their owners to groups of just dogs and just people on their own, researchers at Northwestern Memorial Hospital learned that companion dogs can serve as much-needed social support for their owners. As a result, both dog and owner can help the other achieve healthy weight loss and weight maintenance.

“Dog owners need to tap into that motivational resource to get off the couch and out for a walk or run,” says Dr. Melissa Brookshire, DVM, director of veterinary services for Diamond Pet Foods. Brookshire says that when dog
owners develop a walking or running routine with their canine companion, the animal will begin to expect the regular outings and encourage its owner to continue with the activity.

“If your dog anticipates a walk or a run as part of its day, its wagging tail and expectant eyes may be the incentive you need to get out the door every morning or evening,” Brookshire says. “For the animal, the activity is as much of a treat as the high-calorie table scraps that many owners use to spoil their pets and, obviously, much better for its health.”

Just as pet owners should discuss their own exercise plans with a doctor prior to significantly increasing activity, discuss plans to boost your dog’s physical activity with your veterinarian. He or she may have specific advice and guidelines to follow depending on your dog’s size and breed.

The second piece of the puzzle: Healthy Eating

Of course, exercise is only half the weight loss and maintenance equation. Both dog and owner also need to consider their daily diet. Many pet owners fail to realize that “people food” does not meet the nutritional needs of animals. Usually, it’s just adding more calories and fat to their diet, leading to refusal to eat pet food and the
addition of extra pounds.

“Obesity is one of the most significant nutritional problems we see in the veterinarian’s office, and it has the same impact on pets as it does on people,” says Brookshire. “Obesity contributes to a shortened life span, heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis and a host of other chronic problems. Helping your pet achieve its appropriate weight through exercise and good nutrition can add years to the time you have together.”

According to Brookshire, pets and humans can share the same list of weight loss tips—primarily, portion control, good food choices and exercise.

“Just as humans sometimes need to make different nutritional choices, such as opting for low- or reduced-fat dairy products, pet owners need to select foods that provide the nutrients their dog needs with a calorie level that
aligns with the dog’s activity level,” Brookshire says. “Many premium pet foods, including Diamond Pet Foods, offer superior bioavailability of nutrients, so dogs can get the nutrition they need without consuming excessive calories.”

For more information about animal health and nutrition, visit www.diamondpet.com.

Original Source: napsnet.com