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The following article was published in Your Health Magazine. Our mission is to empower people to live healthier.
Anne M. Rensberger, LICSW
Dogs + Diets = Delicious

Dogs + Diets = Delicious

Sixty-five percent of Americans are overweight or obese. Forty percent of our pets are too. Obesity contributes to a shortened life span, heart disease, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and depression and this is in pets. Obesity is harmful for people too. So the question was raised could pets and owners work together to lose weight? The People and Pets Exercising Together (P-PET) study by Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Hills Pet Nutrition translated that question into a research study.

The 12-month study looked at three groups of participants: people only, dogs only, and dogs and their owners. Dogs were fed a low-fat, nutritionally balanced dog food formulated to keep the dog feeling satisfied while losing weight. People were provided with meal plans, pedometers, and were instructed on strategies to control calories and increase physical activities. They ate about 1500 calories a day and went on walks with their dogs. The good news was that both people and dogs lost weight. People lost an average of 11 pounds, which was 5% of their body weight, and dogs lost an average of 12 pounds, which was 15 percent of their body weight. The combined owner/dog program was effective; in fact, 2/3 of the increase in physical activity in the dog/owner group was obtained by engaging in dog-related activities.

Many of us find dieting and increasing physical activity pretty rough. But people love their pets and want them to live long and healthy lives. They dont want to let their pets down. By working with their dogs many of the participants were able to make real lifestyle changes. People enjoy spending time with their dogs. And a joint weight loss program for both the pet and the owner provides the companionship, social support, and motivation both need to stick with it until the pounds come off and stay off.

So if your veterinarian has told your dog to lose weight and if your doctor has told you to lose weight you have the perfect combination for success. Dogs are excellent exercise buddiesthey dont criticize and they are always delighted to be out walking with you. Just remember, your dog needs to build exercise slowly, just like you do. Plus, you both have to control your calories. So if you wont stop being a couch potato for yourselfdo so for your dog. It may be all the motivation you need. Finally, a weight management plan that sounds like funjust ask Fido.

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