Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Pet Talk

August 14, 2012

Dog treadmill sales brisk as pets shape up

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Like any true celebrity, Uggie, the Jack Russell terrier from "The Artist" and "Water for Elephants," puts in his time on the treadmill.

At 10, Uggie doesn't do a heavy workout, just a light trot and walking, said owner-trainer Omar Von Muller of Los Angeles. But Von Muller bought Uggie a DogPacer for those times when he can't go out because of weather, work or paparazzi.

"It's important to keep him in shape," Von Muller said. "If they don't get their exercise, they get old too fast, just like people."

Some 3 million dogs across the country were using treadmills in 2010, according to a survey of pet owners by the American Pet Products Association. The group asked about treadmills for the first time in its 2011/2012 survey because the machines were selling so briskly, APPA President Bob Vetere said.

It may look like the dog is going nowhere. But pet owners with fat, old or misbehaving dogs say they measure the benefits of canine treadmills in pounds, years and sleep.

Heather Chau borrowed a DogPacer when her rescue dog Heidi arrived weighing 115 pounds. Heidi is now down to 80 pounds, and Chau, a Las Vegas bookkeeper, was so impressed, she returned the donated DogPacer and bought her own.

Now all four of her dogs use the treadmill. Chau explains that she can't walk four dogs at a time, and summer in Las Vegas heats up early and winds down late.

"I want to make sure the rest of their lives are the healthiest we can make them. If the treadmill promotes a longer life, then it's easy to do it each day. Whatever they have been through is in the past. Whatever we can do now to help them lead a healthier, better life is worth it," Chau said.

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