Called "Pets RXercise," the new program, sponsored by Phizer Animal Health and Purina Veterinary Diets, aims to educate veterinarians and pet parents and eradicate a growing problem: overweight pets.
Obesity in dogs carries many of the same risks that it does for humans: diabetes, joint problems, heart and lung issues, and shortened life span.
Having a heavy pet can also significantly lighten your wallet when your pet's weight-related issues send you to the vet more often. But overweight or not, all dogs (and humans) benefit from regular exercise.
If you seldom take your dog for regular jaunts in the great Georgia outdoors, or if you haven't visited any of the state's 77,000 plus acres of parks, recreation areas, or historical sites recently, this Rx offers a remedy for that.
"The notion that pets and humans can get healthy together is not new," said Ted Nelson, head of TedCo Worldwide, who helped develop the program.
"There's both anecdotal and scientific evidence that people who walk with their pets tend to get healthier," Nelson stressed. "While you can offer an excuse to beg off going for a walk with another human, it's harder to say no to a dog. The dog keeps you honest."
The dog can also get you into Georgia's state parks and recreation areas for free with this program. All you need at any state park is to present a RXercise prescription from your vet or pet clinic and the regular $5 entrance fee is waived for your dog and family.
It is estimated that 43 million dogs in this country are overweight. If your dog is one of them, through this program you can help your pet go from fat to fit and enjoy a healthier life. If your dog isn't obese, take a walk anyway - regular exercise with you can make sure he stays slim, and will provide you both with quality time together.
All of Georgia's state-run parks and recreation areas welcome dogs on leashes.