Obesity in America is a significant problem, and not just for American people. Our pets are also getting fat. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, more than 45% of dogs and 58% of cats are overweight, and obesity is now the leading health threat for pets.

The risks associated with obesity in pets are identical to those faced by overweight people:

  • osteoarthritis
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • insulin resistance
  • respiratory disorders
  • high blood pressure
  • heart disease
  • cancer

But the good news is that if you have a pet, you have a built-in fitness buddy. Playing and exercising with your pets will lead to health benefits for both of you. Exercising with your pet on a regular basis can help you both lose weight, build tone, reduce stress, and strengthen your heart and bones.

All that healthy stuff is fine, of course, but the real benefit is: FUN. Now that the weather is finally getting better, you are officially out of excuses. So get out there with your pet and walk, job, run, swim, play catch or fetch or ball … but get moving. It will do you both good.

You can play and exercise with almost any kind of pet. Here are some excellent ideas for all kinds of animals, from dogs to birds to cats to exotics. You might want to keep a fitness journal for you and your pet so you can track your progress.

Dr. Jim Humphries of the Veterinary News Network reminds us that you should start slowly, be consistent and get a check up (for both you and your pet) before you begin a new exercise routine. He also advises that different pets benefit from different kinds of exercise.

We have a wide variety of toys and equipment to get you and your pet moving, like the Air Kong Fetch Stick. Mention the Shape Up blog post and get 25% off* any dog or cat toy, or pet leash. Good luck, and be sure to share your own tips and ideas on how you and your pet help each other stay fit.

*Offer good on white tags only and valid through June 15, 2010.