We’re at the end of January - who out there is keeping to their resolutions? Most New Year’s resolutions are related to our health and well-being - we want to eat better, exercise more, and lose those unwanted pounds. If our dogs could talk, many of them would probably make the same resolutions. How do I know? It’s not just a lucky guess, it’s because over 55% of dogs in the United States are either overweight or obese, making obesity the #1 nutritional disease affecting our pets!

Pets are a reflection of their owners. The saying ‘we are what we eat’ applies to our furry friends, too. Over 75% of overweight or obese dogs belong to owners who, themselves, could probably benefit from (health-wise) losing a few pounds as well.

One of the problems contributing to this epidemic is the fact that many of my veterinary colleagues are hesitant to discuss concerns about an overweight pet in front of an owner who’s also considered overweight. The fear that the owner will take offense is preventing us from diagnosing and treating a dog who’s struggling with obesity.

The many ramifications of pet obesity include increased joint and locomotor problems, increased risk of cardiovascular and respiratory disease, increased risk of skin disease, the potential for diabetes mellitus, and even some cancers.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to solving dog obesity - with is so much differentiation in our dogs - size, breed, age, and potential activity level, it’s difficult to quantify the exercise and offer an exact number of “steps” dogs should be getting.

What I’ve found as a potential solution to this is the Fi Collar. The Fi collar tracks the steps your dog takes so you can establish your own baseline for a healthy day of activity. It also allows you to compare your dog’s steps to other dogs on the Fi network, by age, by breed… giving you a real window into what is a reasonable amount of exercise for *your* dog. This holds owners accountable, as it allows you to customize your dog’s activity goals every day and rewards you when those goals have been met.

Step counting is still a relatively new method to gauge the success of an exercise routine, so as you use your Fi, we can continue to gather more data to further develop the ideal exercise levels for your dogs.

For pups with a New Year’s Resolution for a healthier life, I recommend spending 20 to 30 minutes of jogging or playing frisbee or fetch at a park, as well as two to three brisk walks a day (which will be good for dog parents as well!). The caloric reduction should be done with the help and guidance of your veterinarian, and can simply be accomplished by reducing your pet’s daily ration slowly or by transitioning your dog to a lower calorie food.

Good luck, and happy exercising!!

“Dr. Jeff” Werber, D.V.M.