Pet Obesity: A Growing Problem
According to the Association for Pet Obesity and Prevention (APOP), approximately 60% of cats (56.6 million) and 56% of dogs (50.2 million) in the U.S. are overweight or obese. And despite greater attention to the issue, pet obesity is actually increasing! At All Kinds Veterinary Hospital, obesity is the most common health problem we diagnose in our patients.
Secondary Issues that Result from Obesity
When a pet is obese, this opens the door to many other potential health problems, including:
- Poor coat and skin condition
- Heart disease
- Increased risk of heat stroke
- Higher anesthesia/surgical risks
- High blood pressure
- Difficulty breathing
A Balanced Diet is Important
Like humans, dogs and cats need a balanced diet and daily exercise to stay healthy. To understand what type of food and how much will benefit your pet the most, we need to understand your pet. Their age, size, breed, temperament, and environment all play a role in their health. Overfeeding your pet or giving them food that is high in sugars and carbohydrates may likely result in weight gain.
Additional Benefits of a Healthy Weight
In addition to being healthier and more active, pets that are at their ideal weight can also live longer. Purina recently conducted a 14-year study to gauge the effects of diet restriction over the course of a dog’s lifespan. They found that dogs that stay lean are likely to live up to 15% longer, or an additional 1.8 years!
Reducing Obesity in Your Pet
Easing your pet back to a healthy weight takes time and discipline, but it is achievable, and the results are more than worth it. The key is to help them lose their weight slowly. Tips for improving your pet’s lifestyle include:
- Meet with your veterinarian to address your pet’s weight issues so you can select a prescription diet and calculate proper portion size to help them achieve their weight loss goals.
- Instead of giving your pet treats they don’t need, increase their daily playtime or walk them more frequently. They’ll enjoy the exercise and getting to spend quality time with you.
- Avoid giving your pet handouts from the dinner table. Your pet will quickly come to expect handouts or may be tempted to steal food off the table or out of unknowing hands.
- Make feeding time a more stimulating activity for your pet. Search the web for pet food puzzles to try or move your pet’s food dish around so they have to walk a little farther to get to it.
If you need help adjusting your pet’s lifestyle or need to discuss changes to their diet, contact us today at (301) 994-9919!