Can Your Dog Help You Lose Weight?

Hypnotherapy, juicing, less dietary fat, more dietary fat . . . is there anything that they won't try to pitch as a weight loss tactic? According to the DailyMail, having a dog can help you lose weight — but here's the truth: While owning a dog is healthy, canines aren't weight loss programs.

Mandy Bristow, a 49-year-old woman in the U.K., apparently claims that her Bichon Frisé, named Archie, helped her to lose an incredible 112 pounds in time for her wedding. The energetic young Archie constantly demanded longer and longer walks, and Mandy had no choice but to indulge him with up to eight miles at a time. While I don't doubt that walking the dog burns many calories, the real story seems to be that Bristow increasingly saw herself as an active person and was willing to get moving at other times too. So Archie can't claim all of the credit for his owner's weight loss.

Scientific studies do show that dog ownership is correlated with physical activity in both children and adults, which is great news considering that America is really overweight and a sedentary lifestyle will literally kill you. Unfortunately, the evidence isn't quite conclusive — it's hard to tell whether getting a dog makes the family more active, or whether active families are just more likely to acquire dogs in the first place. In my case, I wouldn't be at all surprised if my dogs make me fatter, because good-quality, adequate sleep helps to keep your weight down but those two pups are such annoyingly early risers. Here are the culprits, Chip and Ringo:

Pamela J. Hobart

It's reasonable to take the health benefits of pets into general account when deciding whether to add a dog to your household, but don't expect Fido to cause those extra pounds to magically melt away. Even if you become a little more motivated to get outside and get moving, the responsibility for your health and weight is ultimately on you. Unlike that fad diet app or best-selling book, the dog will be really really sad when he fails to make your weight loss dreams come true and you stop paying attention to him — so take your pet ownership decisions seriously, please.