GETTY IMAGES Enlarge
(ARA) - The connection between pets and owners is hard to quantify, but for many pet owners it comes down to wanting their dog to live as good a life as they, themselves, are living.
To help you make sure you're giving your dog the very best in life, think of it as sharing a lifestyle - what's good for you is also good for your dog. If you're a couch potato, it's likely that your dog will be as well. If you stay healthy and active, then your dog will have reason be healthy and active along with you. After all, they were born to play.
To give yourself and Fido a healthy-living makeover, start with these tips.
* Boost nutrition: We've long known the benefits of healthy eating, but convenience foods and mass-produced meals have made it easier to be lax about eating fresh foods that are beneficial to the body. Consider remodeling your refrigerator with foods that are good for you like local produce or fresh chicken from farms in your area. While the farmers market isn't the most plausible place to get dog food, you can choose foods made from high-quality ingredients that meet all of your dog's nutritive needs. Do your homework and read the labels. A good dog food combines the perfect blend of nature's finest ingredients to help keep your dog healthy, including lean proteins like farm-raised chicken and pasture-fed lamb for strong muscles, sun-ripened fruits and farm-grown vegetables packed with antioxidants for a strong immune system, and a mix of whole grains and natural sunflower oil for a radiant skin and coat.
* Get moving: According to a recent survey, thirty percent of dog owners are looking to increase the exercise their dog gets this year. Putting down the remote control to take a walk or a run has countless benefits, from building muscle to giving your mood a lift. And the benefits are the same for your dog, including the opportunity to manage weight in a healthy way. You'll both see the positive effects if you make the effort.
If you're not a fan of doing the same thing over and over, draw up a list of activities that you and your pet can do together. Put it on your refrigerator to give yourself inspiration at a moment's notice. Add activities like hiking, playing catch at a local dog park and going to a nearby lake for a swim, or make a list of new neighborhoods you'd like to explore.
* Challenge yourself: It can be easier to get motivated when you have something to work toward, so set fitness and health goals for you and your dog. Remember that it can be more than an exercise checklist; include activities such as a family challenge to eat more fruits and vegetables, including "superfoods" that are nutrient-dense like blueberries, pomegranate and pumpkin. And - good news for your pet - your pooch can benefit from these superfoods as well.
* Cut your stress: Pets and people get stressed out, and stress is increasingly recognized as having a negative effect on health. While some bad stress is unavoidable, do what you can to give yourself and your dog a bit of relaxation by spending time doing things you both enjoy.
Luckily for people, simply spending time with a pet is one way to de-stress - that's something you can take advantage of every day. Also consider the stress-busting effects of giving yourself a little indulgence every now and again. You might want to allow yourself a favorite healthy dessert and give your pup a healthy treat of his own - you'll both get to enjoy a tasty little "extra" that can put a smile on your face and a wag in his tail.