7 Pet Obesity Facts All Pet Owners Should Know
Pets are huge parts of our lives. We are their ambassadors in this human-centric world and, as such, we need to guide them at times. As a pet owner, you need to make sure that your pet’s health is in balance. Here are seven pet obesity facts that all pet people should know.
More than half of our pets are obese
According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 55 percent of all dogs and 59 percent of all cats in the United States are obese. That is a lot of fat pets. And that’s not even taking into account the birds, snakes, and guinea pigs that are packing on the pounds.
Obese is the new normal
Pet owners have a hard time gauging their pets’ weight gain. As pet owners, we see our animals every day so it’s hard to notice a gradual gain. Also, we’re culturally inured to the idea that fat pets equal happy pets.
Treats do not equal love
When we give our pet a treat, she responds favorably (depending on the animal). Humans sometimes confuse this treat enthusiasm with love, and it seems like the more treats we give our furry (or scaled or feathered) friend, the more love we are showering on her.
It does feel good to give animals treats but opt for treats that are small and low-calorie. That way you won’t have the extra helping of guilt to go with that treat.
They just can’t stop
Our pets have just as hard a time with portion control as we do. You may think your cat will stop eating when he’s full even if his dish is still half filled, but he probably won’t. It’s best for your pet’s health if you limit his access to the all-you-can-eat buffet.
They were born that way
You might think that your pet’s obesity is about his self-control, but it may not be. His genetics probably contribute to his weight gain. Some breeds are more susceptible to weight gain than others. Your pet may be even more susceptible because of his personal disposition.
Obesity leads to other diseases
Pet obesity can lead to a slew of problems down the road. It can cause arthritis, kidney disease, heart failure, respiratory ailments, and more. According to APOP, obesity in canines can cut a whole two years off a dog’s life. That’s fourteen dog years. A few simple tweaks to your dog’s routine can start adding the (dog) years back on.
Feed less, feed better, and exercise more
Portion control, quality food, and plentiful exercise are the weapons you can use to fight the slow creep of your pet’s waistline (if you can call it that).
Treat your pet with a smaller, lower calorie treat. He won’t notice that the treat is smaller, he will merely be joyful to receive it, as he always is.
For mealtime, dedicate a specific utensil to measure out your dog’s food. For example, if you give a small terrier food twice a day, dedicate a ¼ cup scoop to her food since she should only have ½ a cup a day, which is a ¼ cup every meal. This way you can be sure about how many calories she’s taking in.
The quality of your pet’s food also matters quite a lot. Make sure to speak with your pet health professional about what food is best for your pet’s weight loss journey. Some people think that reducing a pet’s caloric intake is the best way to help them lose weight, but this practice can lead to malnutrition.
Lastly, find an exercise your pet enjoys. For dogs, it’s pretty easy – walk them as much as possible. Remember that the walks don’t have to be long, but they should be frequent. For other pets, you might need to be more creative. Play with them more, or give them a new living space or toy to enjoy.
The most beneficial step you can take is to schedule regular consultations with your animal health care professional to set you and your pet on the right path to success.
To learn more about the team at Central Texas Animal Hospital, view our team page or contact us today to schedule an appointment! We offer veterinary services for cats and dogs in the Pflugerville/Austin-Round Rock, TX area.