Read the pet health alert below to see why walking your dog fights obesity, and is a powerful practice to prevent or counteract overweight in your dog while helping you maintain good health, too!
LOS ANGELES COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH COMMUNICABLE DISEASE CONTROL and PREVENTION DIVISION VETERINARY PUBLIC HEALTH AND RABIES CONTROL
FROM: C. Patrick Ryan, D.V. M., M. P. H.
Chief, Veterinary Public Health and Rabies Control
SUBJECT: Walking away obesity with a dog.
Obesity is a major public health problem in people and their pets the United States. However, the nation is slow to act. In a recent telephone survey, surprisingly, although 1/3 of the animal owners indicated that their pets were slightly overweight or obese, less than 1% of these owners considered this to be a chronic health problem.
New research from the University of Missouri has found that people who walk dogs are more consistent about regular exercise and show more improvement in fitness than people who walk with a human companion.
The article “Dog Walking and Physical Activity in the United States” published in Preventing Chronic Disease reported regular physical activity is important for preventing obesity and other chronic diseases. Despite these substantial health benefits, fewer than one half of adults engage in recommended levels of physical activity, and nearly 25% of adults do not participate in any leisure-time physical activity. Walking is one of the most popular leisure-time physical activities among adults and has been associated with long-term adherence to regular physical activity.
The authors reported walking a dog could help a large proportion of the U.S. population to increase their physical activity as well as that of their dogs. There are approximately 65 million dogs in U.S. households; 39% of U.S. households include at least one dog, and 35% have two or more.
An estimated 25% to 40% of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese. Inactivity has been shown to be a significant risk factor for obesity in studies of dogs and cats, and both sedentary pet behavior and owner lifestyle may contribute to the development of canine and feline obesity. The Humane Society of the United States recommends twice daily walking for dogs’ health and fitness. Dog walking as a method for increasing human physical activity has not been extensively studied.
Dog walking and weight reduction
Last year’s annual conference of the International Society for Anthrozoology covered several topics; two of which were “Walk A Hound, Lose A Pound” a community shelter dog walking study providing adults and families with children an innovative way to increase physical activity and “Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound and Stay Fit for Seniors” studies effects of shelter dog walking on fitness and social support of older adults.
VPH&RC collaborated with the Physical Activity Program to promote the benefits of dog walking.
According to the 2007-2008 National Pet Owners Survey, around 63% of all USA households (that’s about 71.1 million) are pet owners. That is a gigantic audience to target.
Walking dogs is also good for healing heart disease.
Walking dogs is not only good for reducing obesity, the National Institutes of Health reported in the March 30, 2010 issue of HealthDay News on “Man’s Best Friend Helps Mend Broken Hearts.” The innovative program, called Cardiac Friends, is a partnership between ProHealth Care and Humane Animal Welfare Society of Waukesha County, in Wisconsin. Motivating patients to get active and stay active can be challenging. But the year-old Cardiac Friends program gives animal aficionados recovering from open heart surgery, stent implantation or angioplasty a compelling reason to work out.
Several pragmatic approaches will be needed to solve the obesity problem in the USA, but walking the dog is a step towards a solution.
NOTE: We wish to thank the SCVMA for circulating this advisory to members.