Wag, Wag! We are so excited to announce that September 14th is the official launch of our new “PetsMove” program (http://petsmove.org). The initiative started as the result of a wonderful conversation one afternoon in May (of this year). After a taping with The Pet Show in Washington D.C. SlimDoggy’s Steve Pelletier — TV host, Veterinarian and animal health reporter Dr. Katy Nelson — and I met to talk about pet health and our mutual concern for our four legged and two legged friends. The result is Pets Move.
Why is exercise so important – well to kick off the Pets Move we thought we’d share a few good reasons to join us – we hope you will help us and spread the word:
Lymphatic circulation is powered by working muscles. When dogs are sedentary it slows the flow of lymph fluid designated to cleanse the system and it allows a cellular sludge to build up and impair cells. Physically working muscle tissue helps pump toxicity out of the body, which supports better health and energy.
BOOSTS THE BRAIN
Studies show that even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. Researchers from UCLA recently demonstrated that exercise increased growth factors in the brain- making it easier for the brain to grow new neuronal connections. Another study has shown that activity can make humans less prone to distractions and it also works for our dogs.
According to Banfield Animal Hospital research, the average age for dogs has been documented as 11 years. This number has risen 4% since 2002 and largely because of better pet care. Essentially exercise works at a cellular level by boosting the signal that tells our cells to repair and regenerate themselves in all of our bodies systems, yes, even in the senior years.
STRENGTHENS BONES, MUSCLES, TENDONS
While weight-bearing exercise has been known to help increase bone strength on the human side, osteoporosis is not a common condition in dogs. However, their bones can become more brittle with age and muscle, bone and cartilage declines. A recent study by Banfield indicated 38% of dogs have arthritis. By strengthening the muscles through exercise it can help alleviate weight and promote joint health.
From a behavioral perspective, the same antidepressant-like effects associated with “runner’s high” found in humans is associated with a drop in stress hormones. A study from Stockholm showed that the antidepressant effect of running was also associated with more cell growth in the hippocampus, an area of the brain responsible for learning and memory.
SUPER-CHARGES THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
Exercise improves health at a cellular level. This in turn will improve your dog’s physical ability to regenerate new cells and tissue to fortify your dog’s immune system against infection. It also helps reduce stress. Chronic nervousness can contribute to a poor immune system. A dog that has been physically moving and stimulated will often be too tired to worry (physically and mentally).
ENHANCES THE SENSES
Exercise increases circulation to the ears and eyes, which provides a greater supply of nutrients to help preserve the senses. Seeing and hearing new sights and sounds also helps to give your dog’s senses a workout that helps make them calmer and more well-adjusted dog. Let’s not forget the impact exercise has on your dogs “sense” of well-being.
Finnish researchers studied 2,560 middle-aged men over 17 years and found that the most active men were the least likely to die from cancer, especially in the gastrointestinal tract or lungs. The more intense the exercise, the better. Excess weight has been known to lead to many types of cancers because the body is not able to rid itself of toxins.
EASES SKIN CONDITIONS
Skin conditions have been on the rise for pets and many in the scientific world contribute it to increasingly toxic surroundings. Our pets can experience high levels of skin diseases, including rashes, and itching. Poor diet and lack of exercise hyper-sensitizes cells to irritants and allergens. Many skin conditions can be reduced or managed with proper diet and exercise.
PROMOTES WEIGHT MANAGEMENT
According to Pet Obesity Prevention Association nearly 52.5% of dogs are overweight. Exercise is proven to increase the metabolism which translates to more calories burned. The more intense, the better. When combined with a healthy diet a regular exercise program can keep the metabolism super-charged even during rest.
ENRICHES YOUR BOND
One of the least discussed attributes of fitness on canines is its indisputable impact on the pet-human bond. As pack animals dogs need the social connection with their leader. The type of activities you do and the manner in which they are performed helps increase the bond. Leaving exercise to someone else only enhances their bond with your dog, not yours. Seek activities that you can do together regularly and routinely.
About the Author: Krista Wickens is an athlete, lifestyle fitness advocate, author, speaker, inventor, and co-founder of PetZen Products, a manufacturing and design company dedicated to designing canine fitness products and programs under the DogTread brand. She is also the co-author and producer of the first Treading for Dogs DVD and 30-day Dog Treadmill Training Program. As a former fitness product manager, Krista created best-selling products and programs used by some of the biggest names in Human Fitness, including iconic brands like Reebok, Gold’s Gym and NordicTrack. Krista’s love and understanding of animals, particularly dogs, started on a Montana Cattle Ranch where she was raised. She trained her first dog, Bear, at the age of 7. Her unique understanding of the mechanics of fitness and canine experiences have led her on a mission dedicated to helping develop healthy and beneficial relationships for dogs and their humans.