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5 Reasons Why Your Pet Should Be Your Workout Buddy

Posted December 20, 2014 in Dog Checkups & Preventive Care

Dr. Ernie Ward thinks pets can be great workout partners. For more from Dr. Ward, find him on Facebook or at

We’ve become a nation of cooped-up couch potatoes. Two out of every three US adults are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) (check out the alarming trend here). Over half our country’s dogs and cats were classified as too heavy by their veterinarians in a 2012 nationwide survey. Only 1.2% of Americans met the seven cardiovascular health habits recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA) in a 2012 Journal of the American Medical Association study. The guidelines included healthy eating routines and walking for 30-minutes five times a week.

While we were busy packing on the extra pounds, health officials witnessed a surge in weight-related diseases such as diabetes, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease, and more in both people and pets. The good news is this slide into sickness can be reversed with some very simple lifestyle changes. Here are five reasons why you and your pet are perfect workout buddies.

1. Equal Energy Burn
In over twenty years of practicing veterinary medicine, I’ve rarely encountered a dog that didn’t jump for joy at the prospect of going for a walk. One of the reasons that dogs and humans are a perfect pair when it comes to exercise is the fact that we burn close to the same amount of energy per pound when walking or running. In general terms, dogs expend about 0.8 calories per pound per mile when moving at a brisk walk of 3.7 to 4.0 miles per hour (15 to 16 minutes per mile pace). Humans shed almost the same, about 0.73 calories per pound per mile, at a similar speed. This means a 150-pound person loses about 100 calories during a 1 mile walk while their 40-pound dog burns about 32 calories. Keep in mind that both you and your dog need to use 3500 calories to lose one pound of weight. This is why I say that weight loss for people and dogs is about 60-percent diet and only 40-percent exercise. It’s really hard to walk your way to weight loss. You need to exercise for the innumerable positive health benefits it provides to both you and your pet.

2. Reduce Disease Risk
Regular aerobic exercise can help keep you and

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Ernie has more than 20 years of experience in the veterinary industry and is a well-known veterinarian, media personality and author. He is also a founding member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team.