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Winter Fitness for You and Your Pet
Pet owners know the importance of exercise for their furry friends. Going on that daily walk with your dog provides a chance for them to stretch stiff joints, flex taut muscles and strengthen the circulatory system.
Considering that two of the biggest health concerns for Canadian dogs and cats are joint health and cardiovascular disease, ensuring regular, adequate exercise is one of the best ways to keep your beloved pet healthy and happy for a long, vibrant life. It’s estimated that owners spend three times as much time watching TV and twice as much time loafing around the internet than playing with and exercising their pets. The good news is there are many benefits to both you and to your furry family member that come along with exercising for 30 to 60 minutes each day.
Staying Slim and Trim
The first exercise benefit relates to weight management. Active pets, with responsible feeding, are less likely to be obese. A lean body means a less harmful impact on joints and the cardiovascular system.
Dr. Rob Butler, a veterinarian practicing integrative veterinary medicine in Guelph, Ontario, sees a lot of arthritis in his patients. “A lot of that is due to obesity,” he says. “There is too much weight on their joints and dietary, highly processed foods may release more inflammatory factors in the body and make animals prone to more degenerative diseases.”
Although we’re talking about pets, the same holds true for us humans. In fact, research shows that being active by getting 10,000 steps each day is associated with a reduction in numerous chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, some cancers, osteoporosis, diabetes, stress and anxiety.
Soothing Sore Joints, Naturally
Many pets can’t stand extensive exercise because of painful, swollen joints. Although reducing weight is a good way to relieve that pain, stiff joints can benefit from specially formulated natural health products for cats and dogs. “The most popular natural health products are for joint disease,” explained Dr. Butler. “Many of the products are familiar because they’re used for humans, too.”
Glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, fish oil and other herbals such as boswellia and curcumin are some of the most popular. Ask your vet about which supplements are best for your pet’s sore joints. Remember that your pet requires specially formulated natural health products that have been designed for their unique needs and digestive systems.Visit your vet for tips on supplements, and explore the shelves of your local health food retailer for pet-friendly natural health products.
Getting Active Creatively
Look for new and creative ways to get active with your pet. Instead of hiding up in a gym for a few hours a week, make a date with Fido and a ball and head to the park for a quality game of fetch, some fresh air and exercise for you both. The benefits will be tremendous for yourself and your furry friend.
For those days when it is too cold or rainy to head outside, or for indoor-cat owners, try using the stairs and a flashlight. Cats love chasing moving beams of light. Use the stairs as a playground to add elevation to your cat’s workout. While you’re at it, you can climb a few flights, too.
Ensuring health and wellness for our dogs and cats extends to having a healthy habit of exercise. Integrate your activity with that of your pets and reap the benefits of good health.
Michelle W. Book is the in-house Holistic Nutritionist for the Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA), the largest organization dedicated to the national health product industry in Canada. Through a variety of media outlets and print publications, Michelle uses her role as a health advocate to fulfill CHFA’s vision of a Canada where everyone benefits from natural health and organic products. Visit chfa.ca for more information.