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Can pets help their people overcome obesity?

January 2, 2009 | 11:05 am

Fat dog We all know that obesity is one of the major health problems facing Americans. It's a major problem for pets too.  (About 45% of American pet dogs are considered overweight and 9% are obese, according to WebVet.)

Luckily for overweight dog owners, though, exercising with a furry friend can help with weight-loss goals.

Researcher Robert F. Kushner, M.D., an expert on obesity at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, studied dieters with and without dogs in a study published in the journal Obesity.  His findings, according to ABC News:

Over the 12-month period, the humans lost an average of 11 pounds and the dogs lost an average of 12 pounds. And there were some super-achievers. One person lost 51 pounds, and one dog lost 35 pounds. Those who participated in the study without pets did not do nearly as well, according to the researchers, who said the research shows that working out together is good for the beauty as well as the beast.

Not sure if your dog is overweight?  WebVet offers these telltale signs:

  • It is difficult to feel the ribs under the fat
  • The stomach sags to the point that you can grab a handful
  • The dog has a broad, flat back
  • The dog has no waist

--Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Stephen J. Boitano/Associated Press

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