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The Dos and Don'ts of Dieting with Your Dog

Man's best friend is also man's best diet buddy.

We share a lot of things with our beloved doggy friends; car rides, a bed, and maybe a few scraps while cooking dinner. We also share similar health concerns with our loyal companions. Too many treats and not enough exercise can lead to health complications down the road for both you and Fido. With that in mind, working alongside your dog to combat weight gain and other health problems is a great motivator to eat better and get that heart rate pumping.

You may have more in common with your dog than you think. For one, you and your dog can potentially suffer from many of the same diet-related medical conditions. However, this can also be a strong motivator for both of you to eat healthier and strive for an overall better lifestyle.

While it might feel impossible at times, with work, deadlines, and even kids, to find time to improve your own health as well your dog’s, with enough determination, you can find simple ways to lose weight, exercise more, and feel better.

Here are some ideas to get you started.

Diets That Work for Both People and Pups

In dogs as well as people, a high-calorie diet paired with a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to high rates of obesity. As experts at Bradley University aptly sum up, “The obesity epidemic in the US has reached a critical level.” Furthermore, as they go onto to explain, obesity often leads to an increased risk for developing other serious health problems such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Both humans and dogs also struggle to lose weight (and keep it off) as they age. However, just like you would never put your dog on a crazy juice cleanse or fad diet, consider applying the same rules to yourself.

By implementing healthier choices now, it can help both you and Fido live a healthier life together for years to come. For a healthy way to start losing weight, those over at Pet WebMD recommend:

  • Reducing portion size: It can be rocky at first, so start out slow. You and your dog should stay away from crash diets and instead work down little by little to smaller portions sizes.
  • Eating more often: It may sound counterintuitive at first, but trying something new like eating more frequent, smaller meals throughout the day could help you and Fido shed a few pounds.
  • Cutting down on treats: Of course, treats are the cherry on top of a good meal or after a tough day, but indulging in one too many too often can interfere with both your and your dog’s weight loss journey.

Exercise Together

It’s also really important to exercise not just for weight loss purposes, but because regular exercise can help reduce your chances of heart attack and build up stronger bones, muscles, and joints. It also generally puts you and your furry companion in a better mood.

While any exercise is better than no exercise, encourage yourself to treat you and your dog to more than just a lap around the neighborhood. Hiking, running, biking, even a round of “keep away” in the park is a great way for both to get your daily dose of exercise.

Don't Forget Gastrointestinal Health

Another, perhaps surprising, motivation to adjust you and your dog’s lifestyle is for those everyday health concerns. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), for example, affects both dogs and humans. According to GERD Help, “In the United States, GERD is one of the most commonly diagnosed gastrointestinal diseases, with nearly 20 percent of the adult population experiencing symptoms regularly. When left untreated, it can lead to serious complications such as changes to esophageal structure or Barrett’s esophagus.”

Acid reflux is painful, and while experiencing it every now and then is completely normal, if you find yourself or your pup regularly dealing with GERD, your diet might be the culprit. High-fat foods, oils, meats, and even caffeine can cause that burning reflux. It might help to eliminate certain foods from both your diets and see if anything improves over time. When in doubt, talk to a doctor or a vet. 

Final Thoughts

It’s important to always touch base with your doctor and vet before making any huge alterations or changes in your lifestyle. After you get the OK, it will take a bit of patience and a lot of motivation, but soon you and your dog will be enjoying healthier, more active, and hopefully happier lives together. Dog is man’s best friend after all, which makes them the perfect companion for your new fitness journey.

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