Man’s best friend ticket to weight loss

By Carrie Johnson Weimar • Published: September 4th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Forget complicated equipment or expensive gym memberships. When it comes to losing weight, the most effective tool may be man’s best friend. In fact, several recent books have pointed out the benefits of canine companionship, including reduced stress, weight loss and increased activity.

According to an article in The Washington Post, Patti Lawson, author of “The Dog Diet”, said she never dreamed her unexpected adoption of a stray dog would shrink her waistline. But her new pooch forced her to wake up before dawn for long walks, stole her snacks and provided her with the comfort she used to seek in ice cream and other foods.

Another author, Jessica Berger Gross, told the paper her beagle pointer, Salem, helped her shed forty pounds. Shortly after adopting Salem from a shelter, Gross quickly found the only way to keep the energetic pup from destroying her furniture was to exercise him to the point of exhaustion. So she and her husband learned to burn calories by heading to the dog park or exploring hiking trails. They walk about an hour a day, and often plan two- or three-hour excursions on weekends. They’ve found the exercise improves their mood almost as much as Salem’s.

But this doesn’t mean you should rush to the nearest pet store. Dogs require a lot of care and attention. If you’d like the benefits of dog ownership without the responsibility, there are many shelters searching for volunteers to exercise their friskiest residents. Call your local S-P-C-A or humane society to learn more.