Obesity in Pets is on the Rise - What can we do about it ?!
Obesity in pets, just like obesity in humans, is on the rise. It is estimated that 45% of all pets in the USA are overweight or obese and 25% of pets in the USA are obese. A pet is considered obese if it is 15% over its estimated normal or optimal body weight.
The reasons are similar ; too many calories and not enough exercise. There can be medical reasons why your pet is obese so make sure you check these possibilities out with your veterinarian (for example thyroid disease, hyperadrenocorticism or "Cushing's disease", and tumors may cause weight gain).
If your pet is a normal weight, you should be able to feel, but not see, the ribs. If it is difficult to feel the ribs or you feel fat on the ribs, your pet is overweight. Your pet is considered obese if you cannot feel the ribs at all. When you look at your pet standing, your pet should have an indent behind the ribs (a "waist"). If your pet has no "waist", your pet is overweight.
Being overweight comes with health risks. Obesity in animals increases the risk of diabetes, osteoarthritis, heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer (just like in humans).
Research shows that dogs who were an ideal weight had a median life span 15% greater than those who were overweight (equivalent to TWO years in some breeds).
So what can you do about it? Measure what you pet is eating, learn how many calories you pet should be consuming, and know the calorie contents of the treats you are feeding. Exercise, of course, always helps. Take your pet out for that longer walk, go a little bit further each time. Before you know it, both you and your pet will be a bit trimmer (and healthier). We have an excuse for ourselves (the fridge is not locked) but we don't have an excuse for our pets since we are controlling their calorie intake (unless Grandma is slipping them treats on the side!).
Here is a link to the "Association for Pet Obesity Prevention" that has some facts, average weights for pets and many calorie contents of pet foods. Check out how many calories that extra large milkbone has in it (225). Imagine how eating two of those per day might pack the pounds on Rover!
Many indoor cats are obese. Here is a link to a list of the calories and other nutritional values of many pet foods and treats. Please visit the office if you need a diet plan for your cat and ask for a "Chubby chart". We have a Chubby chart for dogs too!