Your Pet May be the Partner you Need to Stick to Your Health Plan

Committing to diet and exercise with your pet keeps you both happier and healthier

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(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – Less than 25 percent of those who start a diet and exercise plan stick with their resolutions for more than a month, but it’s a little tougher to skip your jog if your dog is waiting for you by the door. Experts at The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center say partnering with your pet when implementing healthy habits can add motivation and will make you both happier and healthier.

     “A balanced diet and regular exercise are extremely important for pets, just like they are for humans, and many of the health benefits of a healthy lifestyle are the same,” said Dr. Arielle Markley, a veterinarian in the Canine Physical Rehabilitation & Sports Medicine Center at The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center. “Your pet can help keep you accountable because your plan is no longer just about your own health, but also theirs.”

     Dr. Markley says, when starting a diet and exercise plan with your pet, just remember PAWS:

  • Plan – Schedule your workouts, make grocery lists and plan out the daily practices that are going to help you reach your goals. Making small, manageable changes will lead to big results over time. 
  • Active – Find ways to get active with your pet that you both enjoy, whether that’s running, playing or even doing doggie yoga.
  • Wellness – Checkups are important for both you and your pet to ensure you are both healthy enough for exercise and to determine your specific dietary needs. When you call your vet to schedule your pet’s annual checkup, give your primary care physician a call as well.
  • Success – Don’t forget to celebrate and reward your success, but try swapping out treats and junk food for some extra love and attention for your pet.

     “Making positive, healthy changes in your life isn’t always easy, but if you say to your pet, ‘We are going to go out and walk every day,’ then you’re doing it for them as well,” said Liz Weinandy, registered dietician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “Making that commitment can go a long way toward keeping that promise and reaching your goals.”

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Laurie Millward is training to run a 5K with her dog, Mitch. Experts at The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center say including your pet in your own health plan can help keep you both happier and healthier.

Dr. Arielle Markley works with a dog on strength and balance at the canine physical rehabilitation center at The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center. She says working with a veterinarian on a diet and exercise plan can help keep pets at a healthy weight.

Eight-year-old labrador Mitch walks on an underwater treadmill in the canine physical rehabilitation center at The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center. Mitch has lost more than 60 pounds through diet and exercise.

Liz Weinandy, RD, helps design diet and exercise plans at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center that her patients can stick to long-term. She says partnering with your pet to stay active can help keep you accountable and provide extra motivation to keep moving.

Veterinarian Dr. Laurie Millward adopted Mitch when he was severely overweight. After embarking on a health journey with him, Mitch has lost more than 60 pounds, and Laurie is working toward running her first 5K.