New year, new you…and your little dog too!

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Often we forget that our own fitness habits impact the smallest members of our household: our pets. Why not make an easy resolution this year…. bond with your pooch,  and slim your dog and yourself in 2010?

When Charley Stone took her four-year-old Welsh corgi, Bernice, for a routine checkup last year, her veterinarian, Greg McDonald, DVM, of McDonald Animal Hospital in Santa Barbara, Calif., said that Bernice was overweight and needed to lose about eight pounds to get healthy. So Stone and Bernice began walking together five times a week up a hill near their home in southern California for 25 to 30 minutes.

“Within two or three months, we both lost five pounds! And now we do two hills in 30 minutes,” Stone says.

She’s happy to have noticed a marked change in Bernice’s behavior since she lost the excess weight.

“She was a couch potato — we couldn’t get her to play. Now she’s more playful and gets so excited when I put her collar on, because she knows we’re going on a walk.”

And working out together made it easier for Stone to stick to an exercise regimen and lose weight herself.

“It’s like having an exercise buddy — it’s so much fun!”

New Year’s Eve is just around the corner, and losing weight is one of the most common resolutions Americans make — and break — each year. But resolving to get in shape with your dog can help you lose weight and extend the life span of your pet.

Studies have shown that the extra pounds can have serious health implications, putting dogs at risk for osteoarthritis and respiratory problems, as well as diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism, pancreatitis, ruptured cruciate ligament and neoplasia, which results in tumors. Moreover, the lives of obese dogs are considerably shorter.

Fortunately, health problems related to being overweight or obese are preventable. Because the key to weight loss is to burn more calories than are consumed, controlling your dogs’ diets and making sure that they exercise can help them lead longer, healthier lives.

Why not resolve to get your dog in shape in 2010? After all, the healthier you and your dog are, the more time you’ll have to enjoy together.

Written By Jen Reeder
Originally published at AAHANET.org

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