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T H E E D M O N T O N S U N • T h urs d a y , Ma y 18 , 2006
EDITOR: Sally Johnston
FAX: 468-0139 E-MAIL: email@example.com
Things work better when you and Fido try together!
Peel off the pounds with your hounds
ot a chubby chihuahua? A husky husky? A plump pit bull? A corpulent collie? A roly-poly retriever? If so, chances are your fat Fido is just taking after his obese master. But don’t fret. Even if you’ve let your fitness level go to the dogs, it doesn’t necessarily mean the going will be “ruff.” In fact, man’s best friend can also be man’s best workout partner, says one of America’s best-known veterinarians. begging performances? But well-meaning owners, who wrongly equate food with love, are killing their furry friends with kindness. The other problem, says Becker, is a lack of exercise. A recent survey conducted on behalf of Hill’s Pet Nutrition Canada and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association found that more than half (57%) of pet owners doc recommends at least two blocks or don’t exercise regularly with their four- about 600 metres for every 10 pounds of legged pal. your dog’s bodyweight. “There’s basically too much food in their So, if Buddy weighs 50 pounds, that means bowls and too few miles on their feet,” says taking him out for a 10-block or three-kiloBecker, co-author of Fitmetre jaunt every day. ness Unleashed: A Dog and Becker outlines a proOwner’s Guide to Losing ‘(Dogs) don’t have to gressive walking program Weight and Gaining Health s book. walk past a mirror in Ihi Together. t’s a program that Becker suggests talking and do a double-take helped him recently lose to your vet about what at their hairy derriere 40 pounds. type of foods and quantiAt nearly six-foot-two, ties your particular breed and go, “Oh my Becker says he went from of dog should eat. 236 pounds to 196 within gosh, what hapHe advises several the first six months of 2005 small daily feedings pened this winter? by cutting back on his porrather than the typical one tions and regularly walkNo more Scooby or two feasts. ing his dogs – a golden reSnacks should be of the snacks for me!’’ They triever named Shakira and healthier variety, like a 13-pound Papillon poowhole baby carrots or are more than happy dle-Yorkie cross named apple chunks, Becker Quixote. to keep eating.’ says. Not bad for someone And treats, ranging who admits to loathing ex– Dr. Marty Becker ercise. from a small piece of cheese to a slice of select “I love getting out with meat, should be dispensed like a Las Vegas that dog,” he says, adding he always looks slot machine’s big payoff – rarely and un- forward to reconnecting with nature – feelpredictably, he offers. ing the wind in his face, the occasional As for hitting the pavement, the good splash of rain or witnessing six footprints
Veterinarian Dr. Marty Becker dropped 40 pounds thanks partly to his faithful pals Shakira, left and Quixote, right, who he teamed up with in a regular walking program. Both animals also benefitted. Becker says keeping weight down can help extend a pet’s life by two years.
– Supplied photo
Dr. Marty Becker stopped in Edmonton yesterday to promote his latest book and share some tips on how overweight pet owners can downsize alongside their couch-potato canines. The Idaho-based vet, a regular contributor to ABC-TV’s Good Morning America, points out there are no stick-thin dog models on TV or in the newspaper. Nor is there a canine bikini season, he says, his tongue firmly planted in his cheek. “They don’t have to walk past a mirror and do a double-take at their hairy derriere and go, ‘Oh my gosh, what happened this winter? No more Scooby snacks for me!’ ” he explains. “They are more than happy to keep eating.” And pet owners are more than happy to keep feeding them. Becker, 52, asks: Who can resist those dancing liquid eyes and those Oscar-worthy
moving through the snow. His dogs, who never make up an excuse to miss a walk, are better for it, too. Benefits of their fitness lifestyle include increased muscle mass and more energy, along with a reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease, joint woes, cancer and high blood pressure. That’s something to wag your tail about. And while exercise helps alleviate depression in people, it can do wonders for curbing behavioural problems in pooches – like biting, barking and inappropriate chewing, says Becker, who also has five healthy cats and four fit quarterhorses.
“A pet that is at its ideal bodyweight will live 15% longer, and that’s an average of two years,” he explains. “The furry fountain of youth is putting less food in their bowl and more miles on their feet.” Becker has no doubt the obesity epidemic in people and pets can be tackled with one simple but very effective piece of exercise equipment – a dog leash. So who wants to go for walkies?
– Do you have an inspirational story for Keeping Fit? E-mail Cary Castagna at firstname.lastname@example.org.