Today, we are talking about how you and your dog can be healthier and happier together.
Let’s start with nutrition. There are two key points to take away:
Ingredients – as people we look for healthy nutrients to improve our overall health so we want to be sure we’re doing the same for our dog. In general, for people fruits and vegetables are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber according to Carol Shimberg, RD, Registered Dietitian in Asheville. Aim for a goal of at least 5 servings per day of fruits and vegetables. She recommends for you to consider incorporating some of these foods several times a week.
- Bananas – great source of potassium, fiber and low in sodium. The versatile banana makes a great snack or smoothie. Try adding mashed bananas to your favorite bread or muffin recipe, cold or hot cereals or add to salads.
- Spinach – a signifigant source for fiber, vitamin K, iron, vitamin C and vitamin A. Try adding a healthy spinach salad next time you are out to eat, Pizza with spinach, pesto and goat cheese, or use spinach on your favorite sandwich rather than lettuce.
- Nuts – a powerhouse snack. They provide protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. Nuts help to improve cardiovascular health, due to high amounts of monounsaturated fatty acids, high levels of vitamin E. Scientific evidence supports the role of almonds in heart health due to cholesterol lowering properties. Another nut to consider as a snack is walnuts. They contain more omega-3 fatty acids than any other nut. Eating walnuts has been proven to lower total LDL blood cholesterol levels, and reduce the risk of heart disease. Most health experts now recommend a serving or nuts per day for overall good health. One serving is approximately 10-12 nuts.
Check out www.activateashevillearea.org, under resources link at the top of the homepage for more healthy snack and food choices on different websites. Remember, before starting a new nutrition or exercise program, talk to your doctor. Nutrition resource, Carol Shimberg, RD, Registered Dietitian. Carol can be reached a [email protected].
There is a difference between portion and serving size. When preparing meals at home, it is recommended to follow the serving recommendation for the foods you are preparing. Just like it is important for people to be cognizant of portion sizes, it is very important to realize that everything that enters your dog’s mouth should be counted as calories too. According to Dr. Craig Hill at Animal Hospital South on Hendersonville Road, dogs are naturally active so the main reason obesity occurs is over feeding. If losing weight becomes difficult by decreasing portions, contact your veterinarian because they can formulate the amount of calories needed for a healthy weight. Also, there are special diets that can be fed to help with weight loss. The most important thing to remember to being healthy is a nice balance of exercise and portion control. This will help improve your best friend’s quality of life.
Physical activity is great for your overall health. The general recommendation is 150 minutes per week of moderate-vigorous activity. I often get the question, what does moderate to vigorous activity mean? Well, this means that you’re working hard enough that your heart rate has increased enough that you begin to break a sweat. A great indicator of knowing if you are in a moderate to vigorous activity zone is to use a simple talk test: if you are able to speak a simple sentence that is good but you should not be able to shout your favorite song at the top of your lungs. A great starting point for exercising with your dog (if you or your dog is new to exercise) is to make a goal of a brisk walk three times a week for 15 minutes. Your pet makes a great exercise buddy and is often an inspiration and motivation to stick with your program because you want to get your dog out and active. As a bi-product of your exercise program with your dog, some benefits include lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure and less stress.
Social benefits – Be sure to balance your dogs exercise program with your own. If you workout inside a few times a week remember that your dog still needs to get out and active. Research your local area dog parks. This is a great way to meet people that have similar interest as you and at the same time socializing your dog with other dogs. Social Benefits: Also, contact your local shelters and rescue organizations to help exercise the dogs that can use the company. It will make them excited for their walks and make your heart warm knowing you helped out a friend.
If you tuned into Victoria Dunkle’s My 40 last Friday and saw Brewster, a dog from Brother Wolf Animal Rescue and you are interested in fostering or adopting him, please visit, http://www.bwar.org/ for more information.