Seven Ways to Get Fit with Your Pet
In the New Year more than ever, we look at our goals for the future. One of the most common is be healthier and more fit so that we can have a higher quality of life and live longer. It turns out that the goals we have for ourselves also apply to the lives of our pets. We can take the same steps to improve both our own health and the health of our pets.
- In 2015, an estimated 53.8% of U.S. dogs and 58.2% of U.S. cats were overweight or obese (Nat. Pet Obesity Awareness Day Survey). That translates to 41.9 million dogs and 49.9 million cats. More than 2 out of 3 human adults and 1/3 of children are overweight or obese.
- Excess weight can cause increased risk of osteoarthritis, insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart and respiratory disease, kidney disease, and many forms of cancer in both pets and humans.
- Excess weight can decrease life span by up to 2 1/2 years in dogs and cats and up to 14 years for humans.
- In 2012, obesity in pets was declared an epidemic.
We all want to keep our pet and ourselves healthy and strong so we can enjoy life and live longer. Here are just a few basics to consider.
Start with a Plan
If you ask students, entrepreneurs, and people who are fit how they remain successful, they will all say that it all started with a plan. Your plan doesn’t have to be very detailed. In fact, keeping it simple usually makes it easier to accomplish long-term. Its important to consider the rest of this list in developing your plan.
Phone a Friend
Research suggests that people both lose more weight and keep it off when they have the support of friends and family. Unless you enjoy the solitude, consider inviting a buddy on your next walk or run. Making a date with them means you’ll be less likely to skip it and the companionship might even make you exercise for a longer period of time. Don’t have a friend? Casual conversation at the nearest dog park can be a great way to meet someone with similar goals.
Figure Out Food
For pets, the most common cause for a pet being overweight or obese is due to overfeeding. An owner can look at this from several angles.
- Portion Size & Calories–This is often the biggest factor for both humans and pets. Although on-demand feeders are convenient for a pet owner, like us, not all pets are able to self-regulate their intake. Doing a little research to determine what’s best for you and your pet is worth the time investment. This article helps figure out what’s right for your dog. And don’t forget! Even though your pet might love those table scraps, you’re really not doing them any favors in the long-run.
- Quality–We know that a health human diet includes whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lower carbs and fat. We must also choose the right food for our pet. Check out Dog Food Advisor and Web MD for your cats.
Exercise is a Must
Healthy bodies need regular exercise. The heart is a muscle and exercise keeps it strong. That effort also results in a more alert brain, a more resilient immune system, and a body that is less prone to disease and injury. Different pets need different amounts and kinds of exercise so figure out what is right for your pet and for you. Play is the best form of exercise. Get creative, build in variety, and stay active. When you just can’t get to it, we’ve got your back.
Its easy to overlook the importance of sleep. But maintaining a regular and adequate amount of sleep is necessary for a healthy body. While you sleep your body recovers from exercise, boosts the immune system, balances brain chemistry, and digests food properly. When that is interrupted or inadequate, its difficult for those systems to function properly. Try heading to bed early at least one night a week. And bring your pet along.
Like humans, stress in a pet’s life can make them more at risk for disease and injury. The first step is to identify the cause. Then, where ever you can, make an effort to solve problems that result in avoidable stress for you and your pet. In some cases, simply organizing a schedule, getting more exercise, and focusing on health can result in less stress on its own.
Don’t Give Up
Studies show that the most successful people are the ones that have ‘grit.’ That means that they keep a positive attitude and keep trying despite any set backs or failures. If you or Fido has a bad day with any of the above, forgive yourself and make a fresh start tomorrow.
We want you and your pet to be safe and active so you can both live a long, quality life. We at Run Those Dogs are here to help.