So those that know me know that one of my favorite things in my life is my beautiful Chocolate lab, Bella. She is my best gal pal, exercise partner and wanna be lap dog. She has to be near me every minute I am at home, sleeps on the floor beside my bed, runs with me and brings nothing but pure joy to my life. She is 6 years old, 93 lbs. of pure muscle and provides me with unconditional love on a daily basis.

I take great pride in keeping her fit and trim and believe that as pet owners we have a responsibility to our pets to keep them healthy, they are our family after all. Unfortunately, more often than not, this is not happening. In fact, 53% of adult dogs and 55% of cats are considered obese. If this is your animal, you and you alone are responsible for shortening its life or even possibly killing it.

Dogs are just like people, they have to eat right and exercise. When you adopt or purchase a pet, it is just like having a child. You are responsible for its well being. You have to feed it right and give it daily exercise or it will get fat! Pets, just like people get diseases and these diseases kill animasl and shorten their lives just like they do to humans.

I can’t even count how many dog owners I know that own animals but don’t even walk them. It’s no surprise that not only is the pet overweight, but so are their humans. The kids are playing video games, the adults are watching TV and poor “Fido” is laying around sleeping all day. This is bad for everyone! But worst of all, it is downright cruel. Just like with humans, extra weight on  pets joints can cause all kinds of problems resulting in pain and lack of mobility. This pet did not ask to live in an unhealthy home. You brought them home with the unspoken promise that you would provide a healthy and humane environment for them.

I actually have a personal training client that admits that when she passes a fast food restaurant with her dogs in the car, they actually bark for her to pull through the drive through and buy them a burger – are you kidding me?! Of course, her dogs are overweight and one of them had to just be put down due to cancer. I’m sure all that unhealthy food and lack of exercise didn’t help matters.

If you care at all for your pet, which I’m sure you do, get up and get them (and you) moving! You owe it to them and your family. Unsure as to whether they are overweight? check with your vet. Most people have grown so accustomed to their pet that they might now even notice that they are overweight. Your vet can give you a goal weight that you can work toward. By cutting back their food and getting them outside for some daily exercise, you can get them fit and healthy in no time.

Here are some tips for getting your pet Fit and Healthy:

  • Schedule daily exercise. They will learn to expect it and not let you off the hook. Bella knows that we walk at 5:00 pm every day and somehow always knows and will bark at me until I move. Thanks Bella!
  • Take them to the pet park. Dog parks are everywhere and anywhere these days. This is a great opportunity for your dog to get exercise while also working on their social skills.
  • Exercise with your dog. Might as well “kill two birds with one stone,” and get your workout in while your exercise your pet. On the weekends, I hit the track while my dog chases me and wanders around the area. This way we both burn calories.
  • Take a hike. Dog are great hikers and are a great companion on a family hike.  Best of all, they can drag you up the hill on some of the steep stuff.
  • Hit the water! While not all dogs like water, if yours does, grab a stick and let it fly. My dog will swim for hours and tire herself out for the rest of the day making for a nice quiet even for me!
  • Make it a family affair. All family members should take part in caring for the family pet. If one of my kids is being particularly lazy, he is automatically assigned dog walking duties.

I hope this help you get your pet fit and healthy so that they are with you for years to come!

— Chris Maberto

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