NASHVILLE, TN—May 24, 2011— The GREENIES® Brand has partnered with Dr. Ernie Ward, nationally renowned veterinarian, pet author and founder of the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, to share how pets can live their healthiest lives.

Dr. Ward offers his ‘Top 5 Healthy Habits’ for pet owners to help ensure pets stay happy and healthy throughout the year.

1. Healthy Eats and Treats

The most important decision you make each day regarding your pet’s health is what you feed it. When choosing pet food, look for meat as one of the first few ingredients, and avoid by-products, artificial flavors, colors and preservatives whenever possible. When it comes to treats, look for low-cal options that confer some health benefit. Treats that help maintain healthy joints, clean teeth or ensure pills are taken are recommended. The GREENIES Brand specializes in great tasting treats individually formulated to deliver these benefits. If you’re going to give treats, make them count!

2. Brain Boosters

I love puzzles – and so does your pet! One of my favorite ways to feed and treat my patients is with a food puzzle. These clever devices hide your pet’s food or treats until they unlock the secret and get their goodies. These tools engage your pet’s brain and bust boredom while you’re away. Forget peanut butter-stuffed toys; these toys stimulate thought and don’t pack on the pounds!

3. Power Play

Walking your dog and playing with your cat each day keeps them trim, healthy and mentally alert. Pets that don’t receive enough physical activity (“lap potatoes”) have the highest rates of weight-related diseases such as arthritis and diabetes and suffer from behavioral problems. For dogs, 20 to 30 minutes of brisk walking each day benefits both ends of the leash. For cats, two or three five-minute play periods are plenty. And don’t worry! Walking with your pet can be fun!

4. Paws Together

It’s more fun to play with other dogs! Socialized dogs are simply better behaved and more fun. Visit a dog park, enroll in training classes or become active in serving your community. There are endless ways to get you and your dog to interact with other pet lovers. Share the fun and join a new pack!

5. Pets and Vets

Somehow we started believing the only time you needed a vet was when something was wrong with your pet. The secret to a long and healthy life is vet visits when everything appears fine. My goal as a veterinarian is to prevent disease, not only treat it. Most of my advice is straightforward: change diet or lifestyle, give nutritional supplements, and exercise more. Sometimes you just need a prod; other times a push. Your veterinarian is your pet’s voice; let them speak for your pet by visiting once a year for young pets and twice yearly for those over age seven. Too many serious diseases could’ve been avoided or lessened simply by catching them sooner. This is one healthy habit every pet owner can keep.

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*Natural with added vitamins and minerals
**Among veterinarians that recommend dental chews for at home oral care.