The Role of Exercise in Pet Weight Loss

PetMD Editorial
By PetMD Editorial
Published: August 24, 2012

Pet Workout = Shedding Pounds

Exercise is beneficial for our pets in so many ways. It helps decrease stress, improve sleeping habits and increase energy levels. Exercise is also fundamental in weight loss.

Did you know pet obesity is now an American epidemic? According to several studies, over 50 percent of U.S. dogs and cats are overweight or obese. And while many of us try to feed our pets a well balanced meal, it is not always enough. Our pets need exercise too and here's why.

Extra Pounds Means Extra Problems

Arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular problems are just some of the issues your pet will deal with if he or she is overweight. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, it may even decrease their life expectancy by up to 2.5 years.  So if it is so bad as to affect our pet's health, how are we letting it happen?

It's simple math but your pet must burn more calories than he or she consumes. Otherwise, the pounds will just add on. Restricting the amount of calories your pet consumes, however, will often only take you so far. The most successful approach is to adjust your pet's diet and increase activity.

How to Make the Change

Weight loss requires regular commitment on your part as well as your pet. Walking, running, or Frisbee chasing with dogs requires at least 30-60 minutes a day for 5-7 days a week. Ideally this should be for the entire life of the dog. After all, that is the same recommendation for humans.

Cats need daily exercise too, but more in the form of play. Try setting aside 15-20 minutes a day and chase him or her with a feather or use a laser pointer to get your cat to move around the house. Cats also enjoy exercise like stalking, pouncing, climbing and hiding that allows them to mimic the behavior of their wild counterparts. It may not seem like exercise, but your cat is burning calories. Just remember, cats are nocturnal animals which means they are at their most active at night. Training them to exercise during the day will help you and your cat sleep at night.

The type and amount of exercise needed can differ greatly with breed, age and energy level of your pet. However, it is important to choose the right type of exercise for your pet with the help of a veterinarian. With their assistance you should be able to bring your pet back to their optimal weight.

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