22 Jun Obesity in Dogs and Cats: The Facts
According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 55% of dogs and 59.5% of cats are obese or overweight. The distinction between the two terms is categorized by the current weight of your pet and what the average is for their size, age, and breed. Falling under the category of obese is more severe than being overweight. It’s simple to find out if your pet is overweight using a chart or online calculator, or even trying an at-home method.
Another concerning statistic regarding pet health is finding that 22% of pet owners thought their pets were at a healthy weight, allowing the unhealthy diet and lifestyle choices to continue.
Risk Factors: Potential Problems for the Future
There are multiple risks for anyone that is obese, and that goes for your dog or cat, too. Obesity is linked to a number of health problems, some causing permanent damage, and even shortening the lifespan of your pet if not addressed. A number of potential health issues connected to obesity are:
- High blood pressure
- Heart problems
- Respiratory issues
- Kidney disease
- Certain cancers
- Shorten their lifespan by as much as two years
What you can do:
Seeing your furry friend suffer from any health problems is enough to make your heart hurt, but obesity in pets is the number one preventable issue that we can take control over to make sure our pets are happy and healthy.
The first step to properly addressing your pet’s weight is consulting with your pet’s primary veterinarian to see if your dog or cat is actually obese. After you have a confirmation from the vet, it’s time to start a care regimen to make sure your pet will safely lose the weight and eliminate any potential health problems. Simply limiting their food is not recommended, as it can lead to malnutrition over time which has a set of problems all on its own.
Some potential methods your vet may suggest are switching their pet food to a brand that is specifically made for dogs and cats which need to lose weight, which is an ideal choice because the food is specially formulated to ensure the proper intake of nutrients and calories, while limiting the unnecessary sugars and additives. Along with the switch to a formulated diet, they will likely also recommend a specific portion, oftentimes weaning down from too-large a size to something that is ideal for your pet. In addition to these two changes, they might also suggest keeping feeding times to specific times throughout the day. Once the new nutritional plan is put into place, it’s important to stick with it and not fall back to their improper eating habits.
Another area that can easily be controlled is the amount and the frequency of treats your pet is given. Cutting back on the treats, and sometimes even changing the treats themselves, makes sure there is nothing unhealthy unnecessarily being added to their diets.
Some healthier options for treats include baby carrots, grapes, broccoli, and green beans, assuming they are given the OK by your vet. Making treats at home is another option to make sure you are only supplying the best for your pup or kitty.
Exercise and Weigh-ins:
Making sure your pet gets adequate exercise is imperative to making sure the weight stays off, and encourages an overall healthy lifestyle for both you and your pet. Taking your dog for walks and hikes are simple ways to accomplish this, and spending extra time playing with your cat makes sure they get their needed movement.
Weigh-ins at the vet are another way to be held accountable to achieve the goal weight of your pet, and should be done minimum of once a month. Remember that your vet and their team are on the same page as you in regard to wanting what is best for your pets, and you should utilize whatever programs and options they offer to ensure a healthy and happy pet.