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Pregnant Emily Blunt Sets Great Example for Human and Dog Fitness.

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This article originally appeared on Dr. Mahaney’s Pet-Lebrity News column on Pet360.com as Pregnant Emily Blunt Sets Great Example for Human and Dog Fitness.

Pregnant Emily Blunt Sets Great Example for Human and Dog FitnessWith the holiday season and the general tendency of Americans to overindulge on festive foods and beverages, there’s the unfortunate trend for weight gain around this time of year. The same thing goes for our pets, as the normal routines of daily physical activity may be replaced by traveling, shopping, and attending parties. Additionally, people often share their holiday foods with their pets (although I’m an advocate of doing so in reasonable amounts. See Can You Feed Your Pet Thanksgiving Foods?) or provide calorie-laden, pet treats.

One celebrity who’s not just sitting back this holiday season is The Devil Wears Prada and Looper’s (one of my favorite flicks) Emily Blunt. A Daily Mail article features photographs of Blunt taking her dog, Finn, for a vigorous hike through Los Angeles’ Runyon Canon (a frequent fitness spot for my dog Cardiff and me).

I must give credit to Blunt for getting out and about to provide her pooch with activity, especially since she’s quite visibly pregnant. Blunt is setting a great example for the general public and pet owners, as she truly personifies how fitness can be pursued even when life’s challenges (pregnancy, schedules, holidays, etc.) get in the way.

A Growing Epidemic: Obesity

Many people don’t think that being overweight is a problem, there are a variety of potentially irreversible health problems associated with being overweight or obese.

Obesity is a growing epidemic afflicting both pets and people. Greater than 50% of pets in the United States are overweight or obese according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP). That’s at least 89 million cats and dogs that are more prone to musculoskeletal problems (osteoarthritis, traumatic joint injury, etc.), hormonal imbalance, heart and lung disease, dermatologic abnormalities, cancer, skin problems, and more.

The tendency for traumatic joint injuries was evaluated through a market study performed byFlexcin, which reports, “New parents represent the fastest-growing demographic inquiring about dog-joint health issues relating to pet obesity. Flexcin analyzed demographic data from its team of customer advisor specialists to determine the largest percentage of pet obesity-related inquiries. In a six-month analysis from June through December in 2010, new parents represented roughly a third (32.3 percent) of all dog-joint health inquiries tied to overweight pets (up from 25.7 percent in 2008). Elderly pet owners came in second at 28.5 percent.”

Why is this the case? It comes down to the calories being consumed exceeding daily requirements, combined with reduced activity. The Flexcin study also determined:

-78.4 percent of new parents said their dog was able to freely eat food that dropped from the baby's high-chair.

-67.7 percent said they paid less attention to their dog's food portions.

-64.6 percent said they had less time for dog walks or didn't feel comfortable bringing the dog during baby stroller walks.

Do Things Change Once a Baby Arrives?

In my veterinary practice, I’ve definitely observed the trend of pets, especially dogs, putting on weight when living in households where a new baby or young child needing frequent attention is incorporated into the family fold.

In such cases, it’s important to still prioritize the health of our animal companions by making time for daily activity and employing strict calorie restrictions. If the unpredictable tendencies of your newborn prevents you from having time to get your pooch out for daily exercise, hire a dog walker to do so. Additionally, if your canine is prone to consuming more calories from the baby’s high-chair, make sure to cut back on his daily portions of regular food (I suggest by 25-33%).

Not every pregnant woman may be physically well enough to take her dog for a walk or hike like Blunt. So, doing less-intense activities while expecting is understandable. Yet, both women and men should learn from Blunt’s example of staying active despite physical challenges. The emotional roadblocks (too busy, too tired, etc.) humans are prone to placing in the way of exercising or partaking in mindfulness activities (meditation, etc.) don’t need to control our lives as we sometimes let them.

Have a healthy start to embarking upon life-long and quality-of-life improving activities in 2014. Hopefully, Cardiff and I will get to meet Blunt and Finn on Runyon Canyon’s trail sometime soon.

Thank you for reading this article. Your questions and comments are completely welcome (I’ll respond).
Please feel free to communicate with me through Twitter (@PatrickMahaney) and follow my adventures in veterinary medicine by liking Patrick Mahaney: Veterinarian Acupuncture Pain Management for Your Pets on Facebook.
Copyright of this article (2014) is owned by Dr Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr Patrick Mahaney and received in written format.

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