According to a recent study 30 to 50 percent of American dogs are obese, closely mimicking the human epidemic, and that a third of their owners do not realize it is a problem.
Local vets in cooperation with the Georgia Veterinary Medical Association (GVMA) have partnered with Georgia’s State Parks for this program.
Through the Pets Rxercise program, vets can give their canine patients a “prescription” to visit a Georgia State Park. The prescription is redeemed for free parking, which is normally $5. Park admission is free and there is no fee for hiking on trails.
Pets RXercise is part of the Georgia State Park System’s Tons of Fun Fitness Challenge, in conjunction with the GVMA. The program is sponsored by Purina Veterinary Diets and Pfizer Animal Health.
What’s good for the pet is usually good for the person. As exercise buddies, dogs can provide social support and motivation for people to walk. Pets RXercise is the first program of its kind to be initiated by a state veterinary medical association. It’s also the first venture combining animal nutrition and veterinary pharmaceuticals solutions, in tandem with regular exercise, to create a multi-faceted approach to prevent obesity for happier, healthier pets and people.
“Reaching and maintaining an ideal weight and fitness level can help both pets and their people live happier, longer lives,” said Dr. Denise Funk, GVMA President. “As veterinarians, we are delighted to launch Pets RXercise as a public health initiative to create awareness and provide an exercise-focused framework that can be tailored to health needs, which ultimately reflects the cherished animal-human bond.”
Pets RXercise invites pets and their owners to enjoy the great outdoors and get those endorphins pumping in Georgia’s State Parks, which includes more than 40 state parks that allow leashed dogs on trails and in campgrounds. Trails range from easy lake loops and paved paths, to longer and more challenging hikes. State Park officials stress that keeping dogs leashed, and cleaning up after them, is for the pet’s own safety, as well as the safety of wildlife and other park visitors.
“Guests are sometimes surprised to learn that dogs can get lost in the woods, and they can get hurt if they chase wildlife,” said Director Becky Kelley. “It’s very important that they stay leashed while enjoying their walk. We want to see visitors enjoying the parks with their four-legged family members, and we also want to ensure that everyone is safe and that wildlife is not affected.”
For more information visit GeorgiaStateParks.org/petsrxercise.
Best Friends Animal Hospital and the Animal Hospital of Gordon County are two participants with the program.
State Parks located in the Gordon County area are Fort Mountain State Park, Vogel State Park, Cloudland Canyon State Park and Red Top Mountain State Park.
For directions visit www.GaStateParks.org/map for locations of state parks.