One of the more infamous New Jersey Housewives said something like “in our culture, food is love,” during a recent episode. It’s not just Italian-Americans. “Kindness” in our culture generally involves food. Most of our social activities revolve around food: celebrations, rewards, bribes, and consolation all involve food. More often than not, food that has little value as fuel for the body: processed, sugary, high-fat snacks, fried foods, etc. And we often over-indulge. We also tend to reward, bribe and show love to our pets by feeding them.
With the advent of such amazing technologies as the internet, video games, and real time chat, we are a more sedentary society. As a result, our pets get less and less controlled exercise.
The United States is the one of the most obese countries in the world, second only to Mexico, by 1 percentage point. Childhood obesity is at an all time high. This has become such a problem that the American Medical Association has officially declared obesity a disease. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention reports that of 77.5 million dogs in the United States, roughly 35 million of them are overweight and 6.7 million are considered obese.
Is there a correlation here? According to a small study out of the Netherlands in 2010, there is! They looked at several aspects of pet owners’ lifestyles and discovered a direct link between owner’s body mass index and pet’s body condition.
As with human obesity, canine obesity has several preventative measures: mainly good nutrition and exercise, and similar quality of life implications: behavior and health problems. Over the coming weeks, I hope to cover some of these topics, in order to help you gain at least a small understanding of how you can help your pets become a normal body weight and introduce you to some easy apps you can use to do this!
One of the first things any doctor, MD or veterinarian, would recommend to prevent or treat obestity, is simple: start walking! Walk to the end of the driveway and back a few times a day to start and work up to that 5 mile walk over time. A study published in the Journal of Preventative Medicine out of Australia from December 2009 showed that dogs confined to a yard are more likely to be obese as compared to dogs that are leash walked on a regular basis.
So let’s get started walking!!!
Mapmydogwalk comes from the family of Mapmyfitness. With this app you can record and log your daily walks with your pet. Pre-planning your routes can help you to steadily increase the amount you are walking with your pet each day. You can create routes to walk, which is particularly useful if you are going on vacation (I use this feature often when I travel). You can also view routes that other people have created and use those. You can make comments about how your dog performed on the walk and add memorable details about your route.
I’d be interested to hear about your progress!!