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Pets Can Help Your Heart Handle Change

February is American Heart Month. There have been many public service announcements, ads, and campaigns to bring awareness about the things you can do to improve your heart health. Eating right and getting exercise top the lists of heart healthy choices however, a new addition to the lists may be to get a pet.

A recent Japanese study found that pet owners with chronic diseases appeared to have healthier hearts than those without pets. These findings were published in the American Journal of Cardiology and specifically noted that pet owners in this study had a higher heart rate variability verses non-pet owners.

Heart rate variability refers to the patient’s heart’s response to change, such as beating faster in stressful situations. Reduced heart rate variability has been linked to a higher heart disease mortality risk. The study specifically monitored 191 people between the ages of 60-80 years old. All were afflicted with conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. They were monitored for a 24 hour period and wore heart monitors for the entire study. About four out of every ten people owned a pet.

The study concluded that for pet owners, nearly 5 percent of their heartbeats differed by 50 milliseconds in length. Only 2.5 percent of the non-pet owners had differing heart rates, meaning that non-pet owner’s heart rates changed less or responded to change less.

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Purina and Jenny Craig Introduce Project: Pet Slim Down

By Kelsey Murray

Who ever would have thought that Purina pet food and Jenny Craig would be teaming up to work on a weight loss program?

According to Jenny Craig, now going by “Jenny” only, 66 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, but they are not the only ones with a weight problem. A study in 2010 found that 55 percent of dogs are considered overweight or obese and 54 percent of cats are also considered to be carrying too much weight. In an effort to combat this problem, and get both man and man’s best friend in better shape, the two companies have created a website for their weight loss program Project: Pet Slim Down.

The website will feature several overweight pets as they start and complete their weight loss journeys. You can even submit photos of your own pet, if Fido is a little chunky or if Whiskers needs to trim up a little bit. The website also offers plenty of tips concerning weight loss for pets, such as how much food you should be feeding your pet and how to help Fluffy tone her abs. (Yes, dogs have abs, too!) For inspiration, you and your pet can watch the pet weight loss reality series that is also featured on the website.


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Dog Owners Get More Exercise With or Without Their Pooch

According to a new study, dog owners tend to get more exercise than everyone else. If you don’t walk your dog, then you aren’t one of them.

The response of nearly 6,000 participants to the 2005 Michigan Behavioral Risk Factor Survey showed that of the 41 percent who were dog owners, 61 percent of them said they walked their dogs at least 10 minutes at a time. Also, 27 percent of those surveyed said they walked their dogs at least 150 minutes a week.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. This is obvious; of course you are getting exercise if you are walking your dog.

However, it’s not just that you are walking your dog. Evidence shows that people move more above and beyond the task of taking their pooch for a walk.
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Animal Weight Gain Leads to Questions About Obesity

A study of more than 20,000 animals in 12 different populations has found that over the last 20 years, humans aren’t the only ones packing on the pounds. If it were just pets or city vermin also gaining in girth, this would be a boring story, but it is not. Animals living near humans, lab animals, and animals living in zoos also increased in weight. Animals in zoos and labs are given very specific diets, so what we eat cannot be the only answer. Are animals in zoos exercising less than they did 20 years ago?

There is some evidence that Adenovirus 36 might be linked to human obesity. Could AD36 also affect animals?


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Dogs Keep the Whole Family Active

I’ve had my dog for almost three years now and while I’ve always been quite active, I can say, without a doubt, she has taken my workouts in a different — and better — direction.

Before I owned a dog, I would get at least 30 to 60 minutes of exercise most days of the week, but it was always formal exercise either teaching a group exercise class or doing a workout DVD. With a dog though, it’s less “working out” and more “play.” Once we got her as a puppy, my husband and I immediately started taking her on regular morning and afternoon walks, in addition to playing fetch or soccer in the backyard and tug-of-water while watching the latest episode of The Biggest Loser on DVR. In essence, she turned my workouts into life, everyday life.
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