Several years ago I had a running partner who would often cancel at the last minute. Even when she did show up, there were always complaints about being tired or how she needed to cut the mileage short to get home to watch her favorite show. This is a good example of why people are choosing their pets as exercise partners over their human companions.
A study from Great Britain recently surveyed 5,000 people and found that those who own dogs exercised up to six hours more per week than those who worked out at a gym or on their own. The study found that the average dog owner walks their dog for 30 minutes twice a day. Compare that to the average gym-goer, who only works out two to three hours per week. The difference can be attributed to the fact that 86 percent of dog owners say they enjoy the time with their pets, versus 16 percent of respondents who rate going to the gym as a favorable activity.
Not only is exercising with your pet enjoyable, but studies show that dog owners are more likely to be in shape. New research from Michigan State University reports that people with a canine buddy are 34 percent more likely to get the recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week than are people with other pets or those who have none at all.
According to Women’s Health Magazine, there are certain dogs that are built for running and others do best as a swimming buddy. Use this guide to find your match:
Running: Muscular dogs with lean frames are built to run far. Best breeds for this exercise are border collies, Irish setters, standard poodles, and Weimaraners.
Swimming: Labrador retrievers, Portuguese water dogs, and Newfoundlands are some of the best breeds to swim with, since their coats are water-repellent and they have web-like paws.
Cycling and skating: High-energy breeds like vizslas, Jack Russell terriers, and pit bulls like to move fast and do best biking or skating with you (while on a leash of course).
Hiking: Golden Retrievers, Labrador retrievers, and border collies tend to be extremely obedient and are great dogs who are always up for a hike.
Yoga (a.k.a. “Doga”): Dogs who are calm by nature such as pugs, bulldogs, and Cavalier King Charles spaniels are best to practice Doga with. For a previous Pet Chat column dedicated to Doga, visit: http://independent.com/news/2011/aug/19/doga/
If you happen to be a cat owner, it’s no excuse to be a couch potato. While you may not be able to take your cat on a run or go for a swim, cats can exercise by chasing fishing pole toys around the house. Rather than sitting on the couch and swinging the toy, run around your house with it. The cat catcher by Go-Cat is one of the best cat toys around, and it only costs $7! http://www.amazon.com/Go-Cat-Catcher/dp/B000LPOUNW/ref=pd_sim_k_2. The same company also makes a feather toy for those cats who prefer to chase birds instead of mice: http://www.amazon.com/Go-Cat-Bird-Feather-Teaser/dp/B000679IE6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1266969565&sr=8-1
Whether you own a dog or a cat, there’s no better time to get in shape with your pet than right now. Aside from weight loss, research has proven that pet owners have lower blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels; less stress, depression, and loneliness than those who don’t own pets. If you don’t own a pet, now is a great time to adopt one! October is Adopt-a-Shelter-Dog month and there are lots of specials this month. Visit www.petfinder.com to find a homeless animal shelter in your area.
ASAP Offers Discount on Adoptions
On Saturday, October 22, Animal Shelter Assistance Program (ASAP) will be offering a reduced adoption fee for all adult cats. Any cat over six months of age will be $35. This is a one-day special!
Included in the adoption fee at ASAP is:
· Spay or neuter surgery
· Flea treatment
· Health evaluation, including testing for Feline Leukemia (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). Cats thought to be 10 years or older receive a full blood panel evaluation, thus assuring that the cat is indeed healthy and adoptable.
· Medical and drug coverage through ASAP’s vet for two weeks beyond adoption, if necessary.
· Temperament evaluation
· Cat carrier (you can save the County money by bringing your own)
ASAP is located at the Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter, 5473 Overpass Rd. Adoption hours are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit www.asapcats.org
Adoptable Pet of the Week