Study Shows Quality of Life For Both Dogs and Their Owners

Can Improve When They Buddy Up To Beat The Battle of the Bulge

A Combined Dog/Owner Partnership Can Help Both Succeed in a Weight Loss Program

A study by Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Hill’s Pet Nutrition, “The People and Pets Exercising Together (P-PET)” demonstrates that people and their pets are both more successful in staying with a weight loss program when they exercise together.

Approximately 65 percent of adult Americans are now overweight or obese, and an estimated 48 million cats and dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese — that’s 40 percent of the pet population. To combat the obesity epidemic, some public health professionals and veterinarians are endorsing a proactive approach that includes adoption of healthy changes in diet and physical activity. By participating in a weight loss program with your pet, you may be able to improve the quality of life for you and your pet through increased exercise, a strengthened human-animal bond, and a fun and motivating way to trim down together.

Dr. Robert Kushner, Medical Director, Wellness Institute, Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Professor of Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine explains, “We devised a state-of-the-art weight management program based on previous studies that show that people are more effective at losing weight and maintaining that weight loss when they do it with a friend or companion. The P-PET study proves that a faithful pet provides effective social support for losing weight and maintaining weight for up to one year.”

The 12-month P-PET study consisted of three groups of overweight participants: a dog/owner group (36 people and their dogs), a dog-only group (53 dogs), and a people-only group (56 people). The purpose of the study was to compare the efficacy of weight loss programs for dog-only and people-only groups to that of a combined dog/owner weight loss program for both weight loss and weight maintenance.

During the study, dogs were fed a low-fat, nutritionally balanced food, Hill’s Prescription Diet r/d Canine, which is specially formulated to help dogs lose weight while keeping them feeling satisfied. In addition, pet owners with dogs in the study were provided with a suggested exercise plan (i.e., 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity at least three days per week) and a regular weigh-in schedule. When the ideal body weight was achieved, the dogs were changed to Hill’s Prescription Diet w/d food until the 12-month study was completed. People were provided with meal plans and pedometers and were instructed on personality lifestyle pattern behavioral strategies to control dietary calories and increase physical activities.

Over the course of the 12-month study, both people and dogs lost weight and kept it off: people lost an average of 11 pounds (approximately 5.5 percent of their initial body weight) and dogs lost an average of 12 pounds (approximately 15.9 percent of their initial body weight). The maximum weight loss for dogs was 35 pounds; for people, the maximum loss was 51 pounds. Participants gained the confidence and the motivation to stick to a specific diet and exercise strategies and succeed at weight loss-not just for the moment but for the long term.

Roseann and her dog, Spats, one of the many people and pet pairs who succeeded at losing weight on the P-PET program, learned first-hand how working together could help them both get fit and drop pounds, while spending quality time together. Roseann lost 30 pounds and Spats lost 13 pounds — 15 percent of his initial body weight.

“Caring for and loving my dog is what motivated me to be a part of this program,” says Roseann. “It is a real lifestyle change. We worked together, lost weight and kept it off over the course of a year, and now there’s no turning back.”

The combined dog/owner weight loss program was found to be more effective at maintaining participation than the program in which dogs dieted separately: 80 percent of the dogs in the combined dog/owner group completed the study, versus 68 percent of the dogs-only group. The combined dog/owner group reported a greater improvement in their quality of life (P>0.05) and the quality of life of their pets. Two-thirds of the increase in physical activity in the combined dog/owner group was obtained by engaging in dog-related activities.

Dr. Dennis Jewell, a companion animal nutrition expert at Hill’s Pet Nutrition, said,”People really enjoy spending time with their dogs, and our P-PET study demonstrates that dogs provide the companionship, social support, and motivation to stick with the program until the pounds come off and stay off.”

SOURCE: Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. and PRNewswire

If you need assistance in implementing this article or any practice management topic, we offer one hour of complementary consulting for free, if you participate in a 15 minute anonymous interview to help us in our upcoming publications. Fill out form below