An occasional treat can be a great motivator for your pet, and a way to show love for your four-legged friend. However, many pet treats and most table scraps are high in calories and fat. If given too often, and combined with a lack of exercise, these indulgences can lead to obesity.
Even just a few pounds above your pet's ideal weight can increase it's risk for developing diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, arthritis, cancer and other life threatening diseases affecting the organs. Obesity can also lead to decrease ability to groom in cats. Decreased grooming causes poor coat quality and matting that can become painful to the cat.
Pet Obesity Statistics
According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP)The number of dogs and cats tipping the scale at above-average weights has increased year over year: 53 percent of adult dogs and 55 percent of cats are classified as overweight or obese by their veterinarian .
Of the 88.4 million pets deemed too heavy by their vets, study results found that owners of these pets may have trouble recognizing the issue - 22 percent of dog owners and 15 percent of cat owners characterize their pets as having a normal weight.
What causes obesity in pets?
There are many factors that can contribute to a pet's increased weight and obesity. Just like humans, some of these factors can include diet & exercise. Some breeds are also more susceptible than others. In cases where diet and exercise aren't working to control your pet's weight, hypothyroidism may be slowing the metabolism. We can evaluate your pet and determine the reason as well as recommend a regiment that will help your dog or cat achieve their ideal weight.
Three parameters to look for in an ideal sized pet:
1. You should be able to feel ribs, not see them.
2. Looking from above the dog or cat, it should have an hour glass appearance (chest/waist/hips).
3. When looking from the side, there should be a deep chest and the belly should have a tuck.
What can I do to help my pet fight obesity?
As with human diets, good nutrition and portion control are keys. A variety of prescription and maintenance diets are available from your veterinarian. Food adjustments alone can help pets avoid obesity, but for most, it needs to be a combination of diet and exercise. Taking your dog on a daily walk for at least 30 minutes can really make a difference! Most cats don't really like going for a walk; but setting up an obstacle course and having fun toys that they can play with brings out their natural predatory nature and can help them stay fit. Keeping your kitty slim and trim helps them be more efficient self-groomers, which can also in turn reduce hairballs. Start with keeping your cat active for about 5 minutes a day and after a few weeks try to work up to 10 minutes a day. Check out this list of cat games you can play with your cat to get her moving.
Any increase in activity could help your overweight pet get leaner and even maintain a healthy weight consistently. Once they're eating right and keeping with a more active routine, they will truly be enjoying a higher quality of life — and that is something all pet owners want for their affectionate companions.
A combination of medical and nutritional options, plus lifestyle changes, can help your pet achieve and maintain its ideal weight, so they can stay fit and healthy for many years to come.
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