More than half - more than half! - of American pets are overweight or obese. That's more than 100,000,000 pets.
Obesity is significantly more dangerous than being overweight, and an estimated one-third of cats and one-fifth of dogs can be considered obese. Being obese means your pet's ribs can only be felt with heavy pressure. Your pet may have an obviously distended abdomen and even visible fat deposits on their neck or lower back area. It also means your pet is physically uncomfortable, lacking in energy, and may even live a shorter life.
Are You Making Your Pet Obese?
The simple fact is, pets don't become obese on their own. As pet owners, we're responsible for feeding and exercising our pets, and for bringing them back to health when their habits get out of whack.
Let's talk about a few of the ways our vets see well-intended pet parents making and keeping their pets overweight...and how to turn things around.
You're overfeeding your pet.
Many pet owners are really surprised to see the actual size of a "serving" of their pet's food. One of the easiest ways to avoid overfeeding your pet is to use a measuring cup for all meals. Your vet can help you determine exactly how many calories your pet needs at each meal; just use the nutrition label on your pet's food to ensure you're giving the right amount.
You're letting your pet get lazy.
Animals are meant to be active, but even Greyhounds will become couch potatoes if given the opportunity! It's your job as a pet parent to keep your pet moving. That means twice-daily walks and/or active play sessions and plenty of opportunities for movement. Even though it might seem like your pet enjoys slothing around, they're really not as happy as they could be when their body's holding onto excess weight.
You're loving your pet with food.
Treats are diet-busters! A lot of us give our pets way (way) more calories than we realize through treats and table scraps. Even healthy "treats" can really add up. An indoor cat, for example, only needs around 200 calories of food per day...that's just 1.5 oz of salmon! Try to find ways to show your pet love that don't involve food. Playtime, scratches and rubs, and engaging toys are excellent substitutes.
You're oblivious to your pet's real body condition.
Vet's have long known about something they call the Fat Pet Reality Gap. Time and again in studies, about 15-20% of overweight pet parents actually describe their pets as "normal" weight! If you don't realize your pet is suffering, how can you help them? Seeing the vet at least once a year is the best way to stay on top of your pet's body index. Remember, just 2 or 3 pounds can make a huge difference in your pet's quality of life.
Is your pet overweight?
Do you know?