Did you know that obesity is not just a problem for adult Americans but our pet population as well? According to the Association For Pet Obesity Prevention, 59% of cats and 54% of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese.
Exercising with your cat is probably an untenable idea because the animal will not cooperate, but there are many good reasons why planning a joint exercise regimen for you and your dog can be beneficial, physically and emotionally, for both of you. And some of these reasons are pretty interesting too.
Dogs expend almost equal amounts of energy per pound as us humans when walking or running. According to Dr Ernie Ward DVM, author of Chow Hounds: Why Our Dogs Are Getting Fatter – A Vet’s Plan to Save Their Lives, dogs use up about 0.8 calories per pound per mile when moving at a brisk walk of 3.7 to 4.0 miles per hour (15 to 16 minutes per mile pace). Humans burn almost the same — about 0.73 calories per pound per mile, at a similar speed.
This means a 150-pound person loses about 100 calories during a 1-mile walk while their 40-pound dog burns about 32 calories.
“Most dogs seem to enjoy walking at about a 15 to 17-minute per mile pace,” says Dr. Ernie Ward. That’s a brisk walk for you – arguably one of the best walking speeds to help you stay healthy. “Take advantage of your dog’s natural speedometer and encourage him/her to move along at a solid speed instead of stopping to smell the flowers every few steps,” says Dr Ward. “If your dog is pausing frequently, you’re probably going too slowly. If your dog continues to refuse to pick up the pace, it may need a little additional leash-walking training.”
Housebound dogs are full of pent-up energy that sometimes leads them to destructive behaviors like chewing, scratching, pushing over furniture, jumping on people etc. Daily walks tire them out in a constructive and healthy way, and they behave better, sleep better and digest their food better.
Often times, a dog’s lifestyle reflects that of its owner. If your job is a sedentary one, or if you’re working from home, then a daily walking exercise plan with your dog gives both of you an opportunity to go out into the world, breathe in fresh air and socialize with other people – and their dogs.
Remember that just letting dogs go out into the yard does not mean they are exercising at all. They’re merely amusing themselves. As a dog-owner it is up to you to make sure that your pets are getting an optimum amount of exercise, and the best way to do that is make daily walks an opportunity for both of you to stay fit together, bond together, and come back home feeling tired, light-spirited and happy.