Overweight Pets, It’s an Epidemic! How to Get Your Pet Healthy Today!

I’m amazed at the number of pets we see that are overweight. I’m even more amazed at the number of pet parents who don’t realize their pets are overweight. Please, for the love of our pets, take a few minutes and read a little further for resources that will help you understand what a healthy weight for your dog or cat looks like and get your pet healthy today!

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, “An Estimated 59% of Cats and 54% of Dogs in the United States are Overweight or Obese”. Just as overweight humans are at higher risk for diseases, the same is true for pets. Depending on the breed and size of your pet, as little as a couple extra pounds can put your pet at serious risk. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention states the following as the Primary

Risks of Excess Weight in Pets:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Heart and Respiratory Disease
  • Cranial Cruciate Ligament Injury
  • Kidney Disease
  • Many Forms of Cancer
  • Decreased life expectancy (up to 2.5 years)

Additionally, another significant consequence of excess weight is decreased quality of life. Overweight pets have a hard time being active, they may interact less with their humans, and overall have less energy.

HERE’S HOW TO TELL IF YOUR PET IS A HEALTHY WEIGHT:

  • Ribs are easily felt
  • Tucked abdomen – no sagging stomach
  • Waist when viewed from above

HERE’S HOW TO TELL IF YOUR PET IS OVERWEIGHT:

  • Difficult to feel ribs under fat
  • Sagging stomach – you can grab a handful of fat!
  • Broad, flat back
  • No waist

Compare your DOG or CAT to these Body Condition Scoring Charts

SOLUTIONS FOR OVERWEIGHT PETS

  1. Visit your Veterinarian
    If your pet is overweight, the first thing you should do is have them evaluated by a Veterinarian. This will ensure that there is not a medical condition causing your pet to be overweight.
  2. Know your pets ideal weight
    See this resource for dog and cat ideal weight ranges. Some dogs and cats may have a healthy weight outside these ranges, therefore, it’s also beneficial to ask your Veterinarian for their advice for the healthy weight for your specific pet.
  3. Feed the appropriate amount of food
    You don’t need to use a “diet” pet food to help your pet lose weight. Just feed less. Each pet food brand has different feeding guidelines based on the calories per gram or ounce for that particular food. For the amount of food to feed, start with the recommended feeding guidelines on your pet food package. But note, these are guidelines and sometimes you may actually need to feed a little more or less than the feeding guidelines. This is the case with one of our cats. She’s a healthy 8 pounds and we feed her based on the guidelines for a 6 pound cat, otherwise she gains weight.
  4. Feed less treats 
    You will want to cut down on the amount of treats you feed and also probably change the treats you feed. Many commercial pet treats are high in calories and not the healthiest. Feed small amounts, 1 to 2 pieces of healthy real food treats 1-2 times per day. See Our Pets’ Kitchen Blog: People Food for Pets – Healthy or Dangerous, for healthy treat ideas. Many pet parents feed more treats to their pets then they realize. Try putting a penny in a jar every time you feed a treat to your pet. See how many pennies are in the jar at the end of the day or week. You may be surprised. Or, each morning set aside your pet’s treats for the day and stick to that amount. One additional idea is to break treats in half. Both you and your pet will feel like they’re getting more.
  5. Weigh your pet frequently
    You will want to weigh your pet weekly and keep track of the amount you’re feeding and his or her corresponding weight. Make adjustments to the food you feed based on the weekly weights. If you have a small dog or cat you can weigh them on your home scale by holding them while you weigh yourself. To get the weight of a larger dog you can use the scale at a pet store or your veterinarian’s office.
  6. Exercise
    Walk your dog at least once per day for a minimum of 20 minutes at a good pace. Play with your pet as much as possible, at least 10 minutes once a day, but preferably more often. There are many great toys on the market that get both cats and dogs moving. Use squeaky toys, moving toys, feather toys, laser pointers, flashlights, paper bags or balls, anything they find interesting and gets them moving.

Our pets don’t understand that their excess weight is harming them. It’s up to us as caregivers to protect them from harm and not unintentionally contribute to their unhealthiness. We will be more than happy to help you develop an ideal feeding amount and a plan for getting your pet healthy. Contact us today! And, for expanded information on this topic see our resource: Pet Weight

 

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