Advertisers promote mealtime as the highlight of a pet’s day as cats chow-chow-chow and dogs drool over kibbles and bits. They love to eat and we love to indulge them, but are we indulging too much? Statistics show obesity is on the rise. Cats lead the way at 58% with dogs close behind at 53%. While your cat “may not be fat, she’s fluffy” and your dog’s wide girth makes him a “big boy” the truth is they’re overweight, at risk for disease and a shorter life expectancy.
What causes obesity? Pretty much the same things that affect us humans: overeating, too many treats and lack of exercise. It tends to occur during mid-life, between the ages of 5 and 10, while spayed or neutered dogs and certain breeds are at increased risk.
Those extra pounds can affect your dog or cat’s health resulting in illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. Too much weight can damage joints, bones and ligaments while causing difficulty in breathing. Overweight dogs and cats require increased care and medication.
Start healthy eating habits when your dog or cat is young. Feed them pre-measured amounts and avoid treats and table scraps. At Flannery Animal Hospital, we track your dogs weight at every visit. Between visits you can check for yourself with a method called Pet Body Condition Score (BCS). Use your hand to approximate your pet’s BCS:
Even a 10% decrease in weight has positive results! Turn a daily walk into a power walk. Studies show that owners are 34% more likely to get the recommended 150 minutes a week of exercise versus people who don’t own a dog. What better way to show how much you love your dog – getting into shape together!
Playing with your cat can be a great way to encourage him to be more active. Try to spend about 10-15 minutes a few times each day engaging your cat in some form of activity. With some imagination and a commitment to keeping your cat active, you will find that both you and your cat are enjoying a healthier and happier life.