RXercise program helps pets get into shape

RXercise program helps pets get into shape

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ATLANTA -

Everyone loves their dogs, but sometime we love them too much and a few extra treats can lead to an overweight pet.

To help those overweight pets, the folks at the Georgia State Parks are teaming up with vets to get those doggie bodies into shape. It's called the Pets RXercise Program.

Here's how it works. You go to the vet, and the doctor gives you a script to take your dog for a walk which you then turn in at a state park in exchange for free parking.

At first glance Richard Dixon might seem like a man taking his dog for a walk at Red Top Mountain State Park. Dixon is actually a veterinarian in Rome, and he's trying to get out the word about overweight dogs.

"Most people don't know their dog is overweight because they see them every day," said Dixon.

Studies show between 30 and 50 percent of all dogs need to lose weight. So, the Georgia Veterinary Medical Association has teamed up with the state parks to offer the program.

"You can get a prescription from your vet to talk your dog on a walk.  Bring the script to the park, turn it in and you don't have to pay the $5 parking fee and you and your dog get exercise," said Kim Hatcher of Georgia State Parks.

Dixon says walks are a great way to shed those extra doggie pounds. But before you rush out, you want to make sure your pet is healthy enough to exercise.

"Have your pet get checked out to make sure it is healthy enough to participate in an exercise program," said Dixon.

If your dog is healthy enough, Dixon says start small with the program.

"Don't take them out for a five mile walk.  Take them up the street, and then slowly build up the length of the walk," advised Dixon.

Of course, exercise is just part of the solution.

"You can talk to your vet about a healthy diet program as well," said Dixon.

Dixon says the dogs aren't the only ones who win when they get in shape.

"If we make them healthy, they survive much longer and be around to keep us company," said Dixon.

Georgia has dozens of state parks that accept the RXercise scripts. For more information, and to find a participating park near you, click here!

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