It’s no secret that physical exercise is important for one’s health and well-being. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health.
Exercise can improve your “brain health, help manage weight, reduce the risk of disease, strengthen bones and muscles, and improve your ability to do everyday activities.”
But it’s not just humans that benefit from regular exercise, our dogs do as well!
The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals reports that “active dogs are much less likely to suffer from problems such as arthritis, obesity and behavioural issues.”
Every potential dog owner should consider the full need of a dog before taking on the responsibilities of owning one, including their exercise needs. As it turns out, those who exercise personally are more likely to help their dogs exercise as well.
A recent international study found that dog owner exercise routines indicate dog exercise routines. Owners with strong exercise routines had dogs with strong exercise routines and vice versa.
The study, “Jog with your dog: Dog owner exercise routines predict dog exercise routines and perception of ideal body weight,” was published in the journal PLOS ONE in late August.
As part of the study, researchers surveyed 3,298 dog owners across multiple countries including France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States.
The survey included questions about the owners’ and dogs’ diets and exercise regimens. The survey also looked at each owner’s perception of their dog’s body weight.
According to the survey results, dogs were more likely to exercise if their owners exercised; active owners were also more likely to view their dogs as having an ideal body weight compared to more sedentary owners.
Of the countries surveyed, Germany came on top in regard to exercise. Those in Germany spent more time exercising with their dogs and had better perceptions of their dogs’ body weight.
Perhaps most importantly, the study noted that exercise isn’t used often enough to fight obesity in dogs. If a dog was overweight, owners generally try to control their dog’s weight solely through diet and restricting food intake. Keeping your dog on a healthy diet is critical, but it can’t replace exercise.
Researchers are hoping to use the study results to encourage veterinarians to work with dog owners to develop better exercise plans for pets and stress the importance of exercise for weight-related issues in pets.
According to Phys.org, study author Sydney Banton said:
“Results from the survey revealed that feeding practices play a main role in owner perception of their dog being overweight, while exercise practices play a main role in owner perception of their dog being an ideal weight. While many weight loss strategies for dogs focus on feeding, this data highlights the need to incorporate exercise into weight loss regimens.”
It’s important to care for the health of our canine companions just like we care for our own, personal health. That includes not just monitoring diet but exercise as well.
The study is a good reminder to look out for the dogs in our lives and be diligent about providing for their physical needs, in addition to their emotional needs.