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Exercise with your pooch and both of you will lose your paunch

April 24, 2011|By Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times
  • Both you and your pet can benefit from exercise, as this Thank Dog Bootcamp class shows
Both you and your pet can benefit from exercise, as this Thank Dog Bootcamp… (Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles…)

Exercise is more fun when you have a companion along -- like your dog. Join a live web chat on how to exercise with your pet on Monday, April 25, at 11 a.m. Pacific time (1 p.m. Central, 2 p.m. Eastern). Our chat guest is Jackie Epping, a public health scientist in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Epping, who has five dogs and a cat, presented her paper "An Exercise Machine with Hair? How Dogs Can Increase Physical Activity" at the American College of Sports Medicine's recent meeting.

We asked her if dogs can engage in some of the same endurance sports that humans do, such as running.

"It really depends on the breed and the fitness level of the dog," Epping says. "I know people who run several miles a day with their dog, and their dog does just fine. Some breeds, such as dogs in the working group, tend to need more exercise generally. But the key is to know your particular dog's limitations.

"As with people, it's better to start slowly and work up to longer distances. You need to pay attention to how the dog is responding. Pay attention to signs such as the dog starting to lag behind or otherwise showing any distress or discomfort, or if you see any kind of limp.

"If you want to exercise with your dog, research the breeds," she adds. "And don't forget, as many as 30% of dogs in animal shelters are purebreds, so consider adopting a dog from a shelter. If you get a dog that's a mix, your vet can probably tell you what breeds are in the dog, and then you can make a decision about exercise and duration."

If you have a question for Epping email me at jeannine.stein@latimes.com and join the chat on Monday to see the answer!

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