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Owners and pets exercising together: canine response to veterinarian-prescribed physical activity

By C. G. Byers, C. C. Wilson, M. B. Stephens, J. L. Goodie, F. E. Netting, C. H. Olsen

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Using a prospective, randomized, single-blinded clinical design, we enrolled dog owners (DOs) and their dogs presenting to a veterinary referral hospital in a two-phase trial to determine whether veterinarian-initiated counseling increases physical activity and leads to secondary health benefits for DOs and their dogs. In Phase I, self-reported health measures, height, and weight were assessed for DOs. Body condition scores (BCS) for their dogs were also determined. Owners of overweight and obese dogs (BCS >6) were recruited for Phase II in which a baseline serum biochemical profile was obtained for DOs and dogs. Participants were randomly assigned to either a physical activity (PA) or standard care (SC) group. All DOs were provided a pedometer to determine their baseline daily step count. The PA group was counseled by a veterinarian using a standard scripted handout to encourage increased physical activity with their dogs. The veterinarian also reviewed common barriers to activity, encouraged increased levels of physical activity, and delivered a specific exercise prescription for the dog. The stated goal was for the DO to spend at least 30 minutes a day engaged in physical activity with their dog. All owners and dogs returned in three months, and biochemical and anthropometric measurements were taken again. Seventy-five DOs completed Phase I. At the completion of Phase I, 46 DOs enrolled in Phase II. Of these, 32 completed all required elements. For all participants with complete Phase I and Phase II data, there was a significant reduction in mean BCS (6.7 to 6.4; t(31)=2.88, p=0.007). BCS and weight decreased similarly in both groups. Glucose increased over time in the SC group but not in the PA group, yielding a significant mean group difference at follow-up (113 mg/dL vs. 103 mg/dL; p=0.01). Based on our findings, both groups increased physical activity and BCS decreased significantly, and veterinarian-based counseling may have impacted these changes. No other significant biochemical changes were noted.

Publication Title Anthrozoos
Volume 27
Issue 3
Pages 325-333
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
Publisher Bloomsbury
DOI 10.2752/175303714x14036956449224
Language English
Author Address Midwest Veterinary Specialty Hospital, 9706 Mockingbird Drive, Omaha, NE 68127,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal health and hygiene
  3. Animal nutrition
  4. Animal physiology
  5. Animals
  6. Animal science
  7. Animal welfare
  8. Anthropology
  9. Anthrozoology
  10. Biochemistry
  11. Body condition
  12. Canidae
  13. Canine
  14. Carnivores
  15. Counseling
  16. Dogs
  17. Exercise
  18. Follow-up studies
  19. Health
  20. Human behavior
  21. Humans
  22. Hygiene
  23. Mammals
  24. Men
  25. obesity
  26. Pets and companion animals
  27. physical activity
  28. prescriptions
  29. Primates
  30. Relationships
  31. Social psychology and social anthropology
  32. vertebrates
  33. Veterinarians