Pets and People Battle Obesity

Owners and Pets Who Exercise Together Lose Weight Faster

Chocolate Lab runs with owner

You and your dog love nothing more than lying on the couch together and watching TV. Maybe you have a few snacks – and share those crunchy chips with Fido.

Then you start noticing that you can’t see your dog’s ribs through a new layer of chub. He’s walking a little slower and seems more tired than usual.

You realize your dog might be overweight. You take him to the veterinarian for a checkup, and learn that your dog is part of the growing pet obesity problem. In fact, a study from Purina found that 60 percent of pets are overweight.

Your veterinarian recommends adjusting your dog’s diet — including cutting out the people food — and says you need to start taking your dog for brisk walks, twice a day.

Fight Obesity Together

Obesity is a major health issue in Americans. Childhood obesity is considered an epidemic. As we struggle with obesity, so do our pets. They have the same weight-related issues we do: diabetes, heart problems, joint issues and cancer.

And, just like us, many of these health problems for our pets can be alleviated through a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Take your dog for brisk walks of at least 20 minutes twice a day and you both benefit. It is a great time to get your heart pumping and to spend time out of doors. You and your dog can get fit together while also reducing stress.

Getting your dog out and taking him different places helps keep his mind alert and active.

You can gradually build up to longer walks or even runs. You and your dog may enjoy going on local hiking trails. Make sure you obey your local leash laws.

Taking your dog to a dog park is a great opportunity for exercise. Engage him in a game of fetch or simply let him run around with the other dogs. It’s also a good chance for you to socialize with other dog owners. Friendship is another important stress reliever.

A 2005 study from Purina found that 60 percent of pets are overweight.

A Hug a Day

It‘s tough not to smile when greeted with a crazily wagging tail or a soft feline head rubbing against your hand.

Woman and dog walk in the woods

A study by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA) showed a strong correlation between improved physical and mental health in pet owners. Personal well-being may be directly related to this human-animal bond.

Petting, grooming and playing with pets – and even watching colorful fish swim in a tank - all have been shown to lower our blood pressure and improve our mood. And, of course, our pets love the attention!  

Having to take care of a pet also can give a sense of purpose. It can lessen loneliness.

Pet owners are generally happier, and therefore healthier, than those who don’t have pets.

Check Up on Your Pet’s Health

Nationwide pet insurance offers coverage for annual veterinary wellness checkups, allowing your veterinarian keep close tabs on your dog’s overall health. Your veterinarian can also answer any specific concerns you have.

It’s the perfect time to discuss your pet’s nutritional and exercise needs. By keeping your pet fit and healthy, those visits might be the only ones your pet will need.

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