What we won’t do for ourselves, our doctors, our loved ones, or hot romantic prospects, it appears we will do for our dogs:
Our doctors can endlessly exhort us to exercise, but a study published in Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of the Interactions of People & Animals, shows that what it really takes to get us moving—albeit indirectly– is for a vet to warn us that our dog’s weight and lack of physical activity is threatening its health.
32 dog owners and their pets completed the study. Dogs hailed from a range of ages, sizes and breeds, but all had at least one thing in common: they were overweight or obese. The weight of the owners was also noted.
The dogs and their owners were separated into two groups. One group was simply told to keep an eye on their overweight dog’s diet and health. The second group was counseled by a veterinarian to increase physical activity with their dogs, with the goal being to exercise at least 30 minutes per day, and they were given handouts and a specific exercise prescription for the dog. All the dog owners were given a pedometer to determine their baseline daily step count (and thus physical activity.)
After three months, the two groups were re-evaluated. The dog owners who had been told to exercise their dog had done so, losing weight just as their dog did. But more surprisingly, the dog owners who had only been told their dog was overweight increased their physical activity and lost weight too.
Losing weight and exercising lengthens life for humans as well as canines. So grab the leash. It’s time for a walk.
Source: Byers C, Wilson C, Stephens M, et al. Owners and pets exercising together: canine response to veterinarian-prescribed physical activity. Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People & Animals, 2014 Sept; 27 (3): 325-333.