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Beat the Obesity Epidemic and Be a Better Paw-rent by Working Together With Your Dog



In the United States, 59% of dogs and 78.1% of adult humans are considered overweight or obese. The journey to better physical and mental health can be more enjoyable and beneficial when you do it with your dogs. You’ll build a stronger bond with your canine companion and work toward a healthier life for both of you.

Dogs are good for mental health. They reduce stress and anxiety levels. They offer unconditional love and companionship, forcing their humans to get away from their screens and get outdoors. Get the most out of this mutually beneficial relationship by doing things together.

The Power of Walking Together

Regular walks are one of the simplest ways to boost your health and your dog’s. According to the American Heart Association, daily walks improve cardiovascular and brain health, lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and death, and enhance mental well-being.

The same is true for dogs. Walks are crucial for maintaining a healthy weight, joint health, and your dog’s mental well-being. Walking lets them explore their surroundings and engage in natural behaviors like sniffing that help to reduce stress levels.

Walking together is easy, as is walking for 20 minutes longer than you already do. Make it a non-negotiable part of your daily routine, and use the opportunity to get outside, de-stress, and have a nice, relaxing time with your dog.

Workout Together

No, not doggy yoga. Although, why not? If you work out, you probably stretch first. Your dog benefits from stretching, too. Add a few minutes to work on some canine conditioning at the start or end of your routine.

Stretching improves their flexibility and range of motion, is fantastic for their joints, muscles, and general strength and mobility, and lets you spot if they’re developing a problem or have a slight injury that needs further investigation.

I do simple physio exercises with my dogs — even my 12-year-old terrier — and the program is very helpful. Plus, watching their progress is incredibly satisfying, and it’s beneficial for their brain function and mental health.

Have Fun Together

Engaging in playful activities like fetch, tug-of-war, hide-and-seek, or agility courses is a lovely way to exercise together. These activities provide physical exertion and mental stimulation, as well as enhancing the bond between you and your dog.

Figure out what your dog enjoys and do it together. Having fun is good for both of you, and having fun together is the best! You are your dog’s entire world, so go out of your way to fill their life with joy. You’ll find yourself smiling and laughing, enjoying their silly antics.

Exercise Your Brain

Like humans, dogs experience cognitive decline as they age, so for their sake, as well as yours, learn something new with your dog. It’s the best way to keep your brain flexible and stave off cognitive decline for both of you. To keep their minds sharp, you have to help them keep learning.

I still take my senior to training classes every week, and he can learn new skills and improve existing ones. He tires faster than my younger dog but is just as capable. All three of us do general obedience classes where we learn new behaviors, canine conditioning, and cooperative care and test out other activities that we might like to pursue elsewhere.

We also do hoopers and scent work, which are great physical and mental activities they love.

Remember, dog training isn’t really about training your dog — it is more about training you to work with and communicate with your dog to achieve a common goal. It’s about how you hold yourself, your physicality, reading your dog, preemptive actions, problem-solving, critical thinking, and mental flexibility.

Holistic Nutrition: Feeding for Optimal Health

A balanced, nutrient-rich diet is pivotal in the health of both humans and dogs.

I’m a canine nutritionist, so I believe in feeding a fresh, balanced, natural whole foods diet.

Even if you feed commercial dog food, you can boost your dog’s nutrition by incorporating fresh whole foods into their treats and mealtimes. Because this is a joint adventure toward a healthier dog and “pawrent,” you can also incorporate some more whole foods into your diet.

One of the easiest switches you can make is getting rid of store-bought dog treats. If you look at the ingredients, you’ll see they’re likely full of garbage unless you paid a premium for them. You can make your own easy dog treats and even chews. It’s more economical and much better for your dog’s health, or just use fresh, lightly cooked meat cubes or chunks of raw carrots.

Top their meals with fresh meat, eggs, sardines, a little pumpkin, or other dog-safe nutritious whole foods. Don’t forget to look at your own diet and see where you can cut down on junk food and add some healthier whole foods choices.

Changes can be super simple for you, too. Instead of having candy during movie night, make some fresh popcorn. Before flavoring it, take some, put it in a toilet paper tube, and fold the ends. You get to snack on the flavored popcorn while you watch your movie, and your dog gets a low-calorie, fun mental activity as they try to get the popcorn out of the tube.

Superfoods and Supplements

I use superfoods for myself and my dogs. If I can’t get fresh foods, then I use a high-quality supplement. We take mushroom complex, wild blueberry powder, and super greens daily. I take mine in a smoothie; the dogs get theirs in a “jelly bone” made from broth.

I use these items for their immune-boosting, cancer-fighting, neuro-protective, and anti-inflammatory properties. I also make bone broth because of its many potential benefits, including joint health, which is vital for humans and dogs as we age.

Do some research, see if there are any gaps in your diet (or your dog’s), any potential health conditions you’re concerned about, and find out about superfoods and supplements that may help alongside medical or veterinary consultation.

Get Regular Checkups

Regular health checkups are vital for both humans and dogs to detect potential health issues or risk factors early, making them easier to manage or treat.

Learn how to health check your dog, too. Make it a casual part of a big cuddle session. Give your dog a massage-like snuggle while watching your favorite movie so it’s a chilled-out, enjoyable experience for both of you. This type of simple, casual handling helps you find abnormalities that might need a veterinary examination, as well as easier-to-fix problems like burrs stuck in their fur that you can tease out yourself.

Embracing a joint approach to health and wellness with your dog leads to a more fulfilling and healthy lifestyle for both of you. By focusing on exercise, nutrition, mental health, preventive care, and the joys of the outdoors, you and your dog can enjoy the journey to wellness together through 2024 and beyond.

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