If Your Dog is Fat, You Are Not Getting Enough Exercise

By this time next year I should be certified in veterinary chiropractic.  It's a year long course for both chiropractors and veterinarians. I'm excited to work with house pets like dogs, but I'm also excited at the opportunity to work with larger farm animals like horses.  

In light of my excitement and my love for animals I thought I would produce this post.  Enjoy!

The health benefits of having a dog are obvious.  Mentally they make you laugh and give you unconditional love when you are only gone for 30 minutes, they make it seem like you have been gone for 30 days.  But first I’m going to touch on the physical health benefits. Whether it is play, walking or jogging, you are forced to get off the couch and move.   Many studies have shown that owning a dog can help to avoid a sedentary lifestyle.  Increasing regular exercise, such as leisure walking can help to decrease the risk of certain cardiovascular conditions.  One study showed that pet owners have lower systolic blood pressure which is the driving force of the contracting heart, than non-pet owners.  Another study showed lower plasma cholesterol levels, as well as triglyceride levels in pet owners.   It is even reported that dogs may show adverse behaviour if their Type 1 diabetic owners are having hypoglycemic episodes which could help their owner avoid an adverse health event.   Finally, pet owners who suffered a heart attack had higher 1 year survival rates than their non-pet owning counterparts.   

More intriguing perhaps than the cardiovascular benefits are the psychological benefits of owning a pet.  Most pet owners do not get a pet to reduce sedentary behaviours but rather to have companionship and an improved quality of life.  In a study that followed just under 1000 participant for one year, it was found that pet owners had fewer doctor contacts than their counterparts without pets.  It has also been reported that certain populations of people that own pets suffer less from depression.  

The authors of one article proposed a theory of how pet companionship can improve cardiovascular health, by reducing emotional stress.  Increased emotional stress leads to a barrage of negative effects on the body.  This is caused by increased sympathetic nervous system function.  We developed this over thousands of years when we had to worry about Saber Tooth Tigers.  If you turned a corner and met up with a tiger you would instinctually fight back or run away (fight or flight).  Nowadays the Saber Tooth Tiger comes in the form of commuting, work deadlines, family stressors etc.  Short durations of this type of emotional stress is good because it can help us get away from the Tiger.  However, when long lasting, this type of stress can lead to chronic disease.  Among other things like exercise, owning a pet can psychologically decrease or limit stressful sympathetic activity.  This decreases potential endothelial dysfunction, chance of cardiac arrhythmias and sudden death, as well as high blood pressure through decreased kidney activity. 

If you train with your pet make sure that they are getting adequate rest and recovery. And for the same reasons that you should be taking care of your health by visiting a chiropractor, you should also be taking your dog to an animal chiropractor. 

If you would like a great recommendation for an animal chiropractor check out my friend’s page here. 

Until next time, stay healthy my friends!