Pets in America are becoming obese. You may not have known about this issue. You yourself may have an obese cat or dog and think it's perfectly normal. Yes, pet obesity is a "thing?" And the problem is only growing. According to the APOP, over half of the cats and dogs in America are overweight or obese.
What's at Stake?
You may think that having a pet that's a little chubbier than the norm is fine. You may even think it's cute. However, the reality is that obesity in cats and dogs can lead to any of a number of complications.
- Joint complications
- Decreased liver function
- Heart disease
- Digestive issues
And that's just a sampling. Pet obesity can lead to many more issues. These conditions will definitely lower your pet's quality of life. They can also lead to the necessity for expensive surgeries. Obesity literally puts your pet's life on the line. That's what's at stake.
Do You Know if Your Pet Is Overweight?
Different breeds of cats and dogs have different average weights. In addition, some breeds are more prone to obesity than others. There are some general rules you can follow to figure out if your pet is overweight.
The PFMA offers a "Pet Size-O-Meter" file that gives general instructions for figuring out if a pet is obese or not. If you want relatable numbers, you can try the APOPs Pet Weight Translator, which gives a human weight equivalent to your pet's weight.
How to Prevent Pet Obesity
The best ways to deal with pet obesity is exercise, diet, and a shift in your own pet care behaviours.
Exercise – Walk your dog, play with your cat, and make sure you allow them to move around at least half an hour per day. Exercise is one of the main ways to prevent and reduce weight gain.
Diet – Feed your pet on a routine schedule. Snacks and treats are all right, but choose healthy choices. Even with healthy choices, avoid feeding your pet too many treats.
Your pet care behaviours – People don't like to hear it, but usually, the cause of an obese pet is the pet owner.
- Feeding your pet whenever and whatever you eat
- Staying indoors a lot and not playing with your pet
- Not paying attention to your pet
All of these things sound like they're simple to do, and they are, unless you're not accustomed to doing them. Figuring out a proper diet for your pet and figuring out an exercise schedule vary from pet to pet. You want to change your behaviours, but that may involve a level of commitment that you never considered.
Get Yourself and Your Pet to the Veterinarian
You should already have regularly-scheduled veterinarian visits anyway. If you don't, there's no time like the present to start those visits. The vet can help you figure out if your pet is obese. He or she can let you know how to prevent obesity.
For more information, visit Riverside Pet Hospital or a similar location.