by Staci Pearlman
Southern California is known for many things. Whether it’s the wonderful weather, breathtaking beaches, or abundance of fitness fanatics, it’s a destination that inspires and ignites that healthy spirit in us all. And with an estimated 1,131,392 dog-owning households in Los Angeles County alone, working out has become much more than a morning ritual. In fact, these days, SoCal’s four-legged friends are just as into fitness as their owners, and the reasons might surprise you.
Dogs, just like people, have been on the receiving end of a national obesity epidemic, wherein weight-gain among our furry friends is increasing exponentially. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 54% of dogs in the United States are obese, and the risk factors are real. Ranging from high blood pressure, to musculoskeletal problems, to osteoarthritis, to respiratory disease, and more, it’s no wonder dog owners are weighing in.
Angela Huber, owner of At Peace Acupuncture and proud mama to an adorable
Chihuahua-terrier-mix named Finn, tells us, “As a licensed acupuncturist, wellness is my business. My own wellness and the wellness of my clients is paramount, so why wouldn’t I extend the same care and attention to my fur baby? I’m well aware of the risks of canine obesity, which is why I’m really conscious of stopping it in its tracks with Finn. Chihuahuas are actually prone to weight issues as they age, so I make sure Finn gets plenty of exercise. I also avoid processed treats and replace them with carrots and celery, which he loves!”
And with the increase of canine obesity, it’s no surprise that there’s also a rise in concerned dog-owners seeking out professional help. More and more pet parents like Angela are taking a pro-active approach to nipping doggie weight gain in the bud. In fact, NBC News recently reported that Americans spend upwards of $60 billion a year on their pets. And as the market expands to tackle the obesity problem, a plethora of services and facilities are joining the movement. Intrigued? We thought so!
With a focus on slimmer, trimmer pups, many doggie centers are offering programs designed for fitness, weight loss, and overall wellness. At San Diego-based Leash Your Fitness, people and their pups are encouraged to work out together, and with an array of activities ranging from boot-camp, walking and running groups, doggy Yoga, hiking, camping, kayaking, and even stand-up-paddle-boarding, there’s truly something for everyone. The best part? This leader in the doggie fitness world has also raised more than $30,000 for dog-related causes from foster groups to cancer research.
“Dog obesity causes many health issues, including arthritis,” explains Leash Your Fitness Owner Dawn Celapino. “It makes me so sad to see a dog waddling down the sidewalk because obesity will shorten their lifespan due to heart and lung issues. I love seeing the amazing results of our participants. While weight loss is obviously a goal, the bonding that takes place between the pet parent and their dog makes my heart sing.”
Kate Cote, dog advocate and owner of Puppertons dog walking service, is also no stranger to weight-related pup problems.
“At Puppertons, we work with all different dogs at all fitness levels. I’m proud to say that all of our long-time clients are fit and healthy, but I’ve certainly worked with my fair share of pudgy pets.”
Puppertons offers dog-walking, group hikes, pet sitting, and pet taxi services in Santa Monica, Brentwood, and Marina Del Rey.
“For clients with a focus on weight-loss, I usually suggest kicking things up a notch and adding some of my more rigorous hikes through the Santa Monica mountains to help with cardiovascular training and calorie burning. Plus, it’s a great way for the dogs to socialize.”
If your hound prefers some H2O, The Total Dog Swim & Gym in Oceanside may be exactly what you need.
“We focus on using water as the most effective modality for exercise,” explains co-owner Heather Urie. “We are unique in that we are an indoor swim and fitness center solely for dogs. Our facility boasts a pool and an underwater treadmill for weight loss and recovery from injury that may have resulted from excess weight. Our heated pool allows for maximum joint fluidity and buoyancy to take the pressure off the already overworked areas of the body. This allows our dogs to burn calories in a non-weight bearing environment.”
“When a dog becomes overweight there is a shift in how they carry their body,” Urie explains. “Sometimes they shift more pressure onto their front quarters, sometimes they become weaker in the hind end, and more often than not, all four limbs deteriorate in both joint stability and muscle strength. Canine obesity affects the body as a whole and can be one of the most harmful afflictions for the heart and joints being able to function properly.”
Got a prissy pooch? If your pup loves to get pampered, head straight on over to The Wagmor Luxury Pet Hotel & Spa in Studio City. This high end, 5-star luxury pet hotel and spa not only offers mud baths, oxygen treatments and amenities you won’t find anywhere else, but also creates customized diet and exercise regimens for their A-list guests.
According to Melissa Bacelar, certified pet nutritionist and owner of The Wagmor, “When a client comes to me with a dog that needs to lose a few pounds, we go through many different options. We start with food and usually put them on a raw diet and cut the treats and chews to things like venison tendon and beef heart. Then we discuss daily activity. We also offer daycare, walks, and hikes, which are a great way to get your dog moving during the day when they would normally be sleeping!”
It’s no wonder celebs like Liam Hemsworth opt to set their pets up at this hot spot.
Whether you’re a hands-on pet owner with a DIY approach or a busy professional wanting to leave it to the pros, one thing is for sure: when it comes to attacking canine obesity with innovation and style, Southern California is top dog!