For many of us, fall is the perfect time to get outside with our furry sidekick.  The heat and humidity have finally started to wind down, and outdoor activities are beginning to look a lot more attractive than they did just a few months ago.  The best part?  According to a chart provided by The Healthy Eating Guide, a 155-pound person can burn an estimated 115 calories per hour just by playing with their pup.  (That is an estimate that fluctuates proportionately with your body weight.)  If you’d like to increase that calorie burn, try making your play time a bit more rigorous.

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If you’re looking for some ideas for how to get your dog involved in your workout, you’re not alone!  Extensive research has been done in this area, and the results are pretty encouraging.  Findings from a study performed in September 2008 suggested that people who own dogs are almost 25% less likely to be obese.  Another study performed in April of the same year suggested that dog ownership reduced the likelihood of childhood obesity BY HALF!

In an article published on Science Daily, Dr. Susan Nelson of Kansas State University gave the following helpful tips to consider when working to create a healthier lifestyle with your dog:

  • Take your dog out to exercise at least twice daily.  Try to maintain activity levels for 15-60 minutes, depending on the size and personality of your pet.
  • Swimming is great exercise for both pets and people, so if you have the opportunity, take your pooch for a dip!  This is a great aerobic option for anyone (human or canine) who struggles with joint discomfort, since it does not place any added stress on the joints.
  • Be mindful of the weather.  In warmer climates, frequent water breaks become even more necessary.  If you live in colder regions, remember that frostbite is a very real concern for both you and your pets.
  • Never overwork growing puppies, especially the larger breeds.  Of course, puppies love to play (and you should join them when they do!).  However, long strenuous runs are not healthy for developing joints.  If you plan to run long distances with your pup, wait until he or she is about 12-15 months of age.
  • Avoid feeding your dog just before or after exercise.  Again, for larger breeds this is of particular concern, because they are predisposed to “bloat”.

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Before you incorporate any new strenuous activities into your dog’s daily routine, always remember to clear it with your veterinarian.  They will be able to address any concerns that you may have and prescribe limitations, if they are appropriate for your pet.

Exercise is fun for your dog, and it’s a great way to get yourself motivated.  Have a little extra time on your hands?  Grab a leash and get moving!

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