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Monday, January 23, 2006

Does Your Pet Need an Exercise Program?

Pet owners are being urged to make sure their animal companions get enough exercise to keep them healthy. Purdue University wellness veterinarian Lorraine Corriveau says pets, as well as people, should get 30 to 45 minutes of daily exercise. Veterinarians estimate that 25 percent of dogs and cats are obese. Those extra pounds can cause a multitude of health problems for your pet.

Obese dogs run the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure just like their human counterparts. Both dogs and cats are also at an increased risk for diabetes if they are obese. Other animal health problems that stem from obesity include difficulty breathing, and skin and joint problems. So it makes sense to put your pet on an exercise program if they are overweight. The question is how do you determine if rover or tiger should shed a few pounds?

Corriveau offers these tips to help you determine if your pet is overweight:
- Does your pet have a bulging waistline when you look down at them from above?
- Does your pet's belly sag and/or wobble side to side?
- You should be able to easily feel your pet's ribs.
- A good estimate of the ideal body weight for a dog or cat is the weight they were when they first reached adulthood.

If you determine that your pet needs to slim down a bit, here are some suggestions on how to make sure they get enough exercise.

- Take your pet for walks – you can leash train cats as well as dogs.

- Dogs love to run after a ball or stick that you throw.

- Take a flashlight and let your cat leap and jump around following the beam of light.

- Treadmills are trendy for both people and pets, but make sure you research the correct way to exercise your companion animal on these machines so you don't injure them.

You may also need to consult with a veterinarian to find the correct weight-management program for your companion animal since you may be feeding your pet too many calories. Your veterinarian can help you determine exactly how much food is needed for your pet to get enough nutrients to stay healthy and still lose weight.

Copyright © 2006 Ian White


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