Every day we are surrounded by images and reports telling us that Americans are overweight. We are reminded constantly about the health benefits of weight loss. But did you know that obesity is also an epidemic among the furry members of our families as well? It is estimated that over 58% of cats and 54% of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese!
We are the only ones responsible for what we eat and how much we exercise, however for our pets WE control what and how much our pets eat and exercise. Until they learn how to open the fridge door (and before I get all the comments I bet there are a few smart dogs out there that can open the door) we are the only ones responsible for our pet’s health and potential obesity.
We love our pets, and unfortunately we tend to show that love by feeding treats and table food. However, all these “treats” can lead to some major health issues. The overweight pet has more stress on the joints and back which can lead to arthritis and back problems. The pudgy poodle or pug that cannot breathe without making a lot of “noise” and coughing….all that extra weight puts more stress on the airways and heart. And let us not forget our feline friends, obesity can lead to developing diabetes, and can make the treatment of diabetes more difficult. Overweight cats can also develop a life-threatening disease of the liver called hepatic lipidosis.
These are just a few examples of how being overweight can keep your favorite pets from living a long and happy life. Dr. Murray, Dr. Burns and I talk to clients daily about ways to help their pets live healthier lives. There are some very small changes that can really help your pets. Most importantly, DO NOT FEED TABLE FOOD. You would be surprised how much those little “bites” add weight to you best furry friends. Also try to limit treats and make sure you are feeding the correct food for the stage of life of your pet. For example, often just changing to a senior food for older cats and dogs (over age of 7) can make a huge change. Make sure you are feeding the CORRECT amount of food. Follow the directions on the food label and use an actual measuring cup to measure out the food. And don’t forget to promote exercise - go for walks, buy or make some new cat toys, or get a treat holder that makes the pet play to get the reward.
Please come and talk to us if you are concerned about your best friend’s weight (and I’m talking about furry friends). We can do a thorough exam to rule out any complicating illnesses, such as thyroid disease, and help you to work out a doable weight loss plan. There are many tools out there to help, including prescription diets and medications. In recognition of Pet Obesity Awareness Day let’s think about your pets weight and health.
Feel free to come by anytime to just get a weigh-in!
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