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Exercise Benefits Pets and Owners, Survey Says

Posted: April 27, 2012, 4:55 p.m. EDT


Pet owners want to spend more active time with their pets because they believe it makes their pets happier and strengthens the human-animal bond, but work and family are getting in the way, according to a nationwide survey of 1,200 pet owners published by Nestlé Purina and conducted by Ipsos.

According to the survey, 64 percent of pet owners desire to spend more active time with their pets, and 75 percent believe their pets are happier or more content when they exercise regularly. Forty-two percent of owners said regular physical deepened their bond with their pet.

The most popular form of activity shared between pets and owners was playing ball or “fetch,” with 15 percent of respondents choosing it as their top activity. Other popular activities included chasing a string or feather toy (11 percent), taking leisurely walks (11 percent) and going on brisk walks, hikes or runs (8 percent).

Misty May-Treanor and Purina team up to get pets in shape.
Olympian and pet enthusiast Misty May-Treanor is teaming with Nestlé Purina to help pets and owners increase activity and shed pounds.
Jobs and family demands represented the largest hurdle for pet owners to reach their goal of spending more active time with their pets, with 42 percent of respondents choosing jobs and family demands as the top barrier to fitness. Other top responses included health (14 percent), need for guidance (13 percent), and 25 percent of respondents were satisfied with their current activity levels with their pets.

About half of respondents consider themselves and their pets to be “regular Joes,” receiving some form of exercise or activity time every day. Twenty percent of owners view themselves consider “resting” to be their favorite activity, and 26 percent place their pets the same category. Those who “seldom sit still” comprised 13 percent of pets and 7 percent of owners, while 19 percent of owners consider themselves “weekend warriors,” compared to 6 percent of pets. Just 4 percent of owners and pets consider themselves “active athletes.”

Other reasons respondents felt pets benefitted from exercise included weight management (41 percent) and higher exercise and activity level achieved by owner (33 percent).

In response to the survey, Purina is teaming up with beach volleyball gold medalist and pet enthusiast Misty May-Treanor to help steer pet owners to veterinary professionals to seek advice on losing weight and increasing activity.

“Veterinarians understand that proper nutrition and exercise are the keys to a healthy body condition for pets, but we also need to help owners feel motivated while supporting them in their journey to find their happier, more energetic pets through diet and activity,” said Grade Long, DVM, M.S., M.B.A., director of veterinary technical marketing with Nestlé Purina PetCare.

This initiative follows on the heels of Nestlé Purina's Project: Slim Down partnership with Jenny Craig. Project: Pet Slim Down, which ran through March, teamed pet owners with veterinary professionals to create an individualized feeding and exercise program to help pets reach a healthy weight.

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