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Exercise: For Pets and Owners

Clinician's Brief (Capsule)

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A number of risk factors affect companion animal energy imbalance, and research has suggested that proinflammatory cytokines, which can be secreted by adipose tissue, contribute to a low-grade inflammatory state promoting chronic diseases (eg, osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus). Moderation of dietary intake and increased physical activity are likely antiinflammatory in nature. This study examined the impact of veterinarian-initiated counseling (encouraging both dog owner and dog exercise) on anthropometric and biochemical measures of health.

Seventy-five owners and their dogs were enrolled in this study; baseline data (eg, bloodwork, body condition score [BCS], human body mass index [BMI]) were measured. The first group of owners in the standard care group had a general wellness appointment without specific activity goals, while the second physical activity group was counseled about specific physical activity goals and recommendations. All participants were asked to wear a pedometer and record daily activity with their dog for 3 months. Dog owners were generally willing to follow a veterinarian-prescribed exercise regimen; adding only 30 minutes of walking per day reduced patient weight and improved BCS.


Clinician's Brief

Fostering the human–animal bond is a great way to encourage vitality and health. Unfortunately, lifestyle changes are the hardest to achieve, and most changes in pets directly reflect changes in the owner. With two-thirds of humans in the United States considered overweight or obese, the nutritional and exercise challenges we face seem extreme. Veterinarians could benefit from the establishment of formal guidelines for safe weight loss and increased exercise; following the patient with weigh-ins and journal descriptions; and providing exercise technology like pedometers, physical rehabilitation exercises, underwater treadmill therapy, and psychosocial support.—Heather Troyer, DVM, DABVP, CVA

This capsule is part of the One Health Initiative. 


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