Our pets are family and we want them to live long, happy lives. The key to this longevity is maintaining a healthy weight for our pets, but overfeeding and lack of exercise have created a troubling situation. It’s estimated that over 50 percent of pets in the US are overweight or obese. What does this mean? Over 42 million dogs and 50 million cats have a weight problem! The numbers are alarming, but with a few simple tips, we can change these statistics.
Know the ideal weight for a dog or cat.
There are a number of visual cues you can use to help determine if your pet is at an ideal weight:
1. Dogs: You should be able to feel and count their ribs with a light touch.
2. Cats: You should see their stomach slope upward when viewed from the side.
3. Dogs & Cats: You should see an hourglass figure with an indent near their middle when viewed from above.
If your dog or cat is a bit round, you may have an overweight or obese pet. Awareness and early recognition are your best defense against pet obesity, so make an appointment with your vet to see if a weight loss plan is necessary. It’s never too late to make a change that will benefit your pet’s future!
Understand the health concerns of pet obesity.
Many health conditions are worsened when a pet is obese. Overweight pets are more susceptible to diabetes, arthritis, loss of mobility, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and cancer. Quality of life is also reduced, as overweight pets frequently suffer from difficulty breathing, quick fatigue, and an inability to groom themselves. As pet owners, we are responsible for the care of our furry family members, so we must make sure they maintain a healthy weight.
Practice portion control.
Overfeeding is the leading cause of pet obesity in dogs and cats. Portion control is the best place to start when it comes to pet obesity. There is no exact answer as far as how much to feed your dog or cat because caloric needs vary for each pet. Factors like your pet’s lifestyle, age, breed, and gender, will determine the appropriate feeding plan and portion size. You should always ask your vet about which type of food is best suited for your pet as well as the maximum number of calories needed daily. Luckily, the appropriately sized bowls in the PetComfort Feeding System assist with portion control, reducing the likelihood of overfeeding.
Exercise your pet.
Start by consulting with your vet to create an exercise program tailored to your pet. A general rule for dogs is 30 minutes of daily exercise, and for cats, three daily, five-minute energetic play sessions. Dogs will enjoy an extra walk or extra time playing fetch. Cats love toys that encourage hunting, including laser pointers, catnip toys and even empty boxes. Next, keep track of your pet’s weight by routinely weighing him or her at the same time of day each month. By continuously monitoring your pet’s weight, you will be better at maintaining a healthy lifestyle for your furry companion.
Don’t let your pet become a statistic of pet obesity! If you are worried your pet may be overweight, talk with your vet to see if a weight loss plan is necessary, and to determine the appropriate amount of food for portion control. The effort you put in now will be rewarded with a happier, healthier pet!
* Remember to always consult with your vet before altering your pet’s diet and exercise routine.