Few things tell your pet that you love them and approve of their latest trick or loving stare quite like a serving or two of their favorite treats. But much like their humans, a significant portion of the American cat and dog population is suffering from an obesity epidemic. According to APOP (Association for Pet Obesity Prevention), over 45 percent of dogs are over the obesity threshold, with their feline brothers and sisters faring far worse at over 58 percent weighing in as obese. Although a few extra pounds won’t necessarily make or break your pet’s health, and may actually contribute to their lovability and cuteness, being excessively overweight or obese can lead to serious health problems and complications. Here are a few simple guidelines to help keep your fur baby’s weight and health in check, without necessarily denying them their favorite food and treats.
How Obesity Can Hurt Your Pets
Although your dog or cat’s dietary needs are different from your own (no matter how much they beg and plead for that pork chop at dinner time), excess weight can wreak havoc on their health in similar ways. Some of the most common health problems associated with pet obesity include diabetes, joint problems, high blood pressure, respiratory issues, decreased energy and a higher risk of cancer.
Tips for Keeping Your Dog and Cat at a Healthy Weight
Like humans, pets are vulnerable to weight gain and obesity for a number of reasons, from breed to diet, lack of exercise and serving size/portion control. If you’re not sure whether your dog or cat is overweight or just fluffy, talking to your vet about their ideal weight and dietary requirements is the best place to start.
Other practical tips that can help your pets reach (and stay) at a healthy weight include:
- Watch their daily calorie intake
- Choose natural, breed appropriate treats over highly processed snacks and brands
- Use a measuring cup
- Make exercise and regular movement a part of your daily routine
- Check out this guide for great outdoor and indoor exercise ideas
Although it may be difficult at first and feel cruel to withhold snacks or cut down on your pet’s serving sizes, the opposite is actually true. Keeping them at a healthy weight is an important factor in their safety, wellness and quality of life.