January - Pet Obesity Awareness
Did you know that about 60% of US pets are overweight? There are a number of causes of pet obesity: some pets have a genetic predisposition, underlying disease, or simply fed too much and lack exercise. Obesity is a top health concern for veterinarians – excessive weight causes the same problems in pets as it does in humans.
There are a number of causes of pet obesity: some pets have a genetic predisposition, like some people do. Age can also be a factor since, after two years, many animals become less active. Occasionally, a metabolic disorder, such as hypothyroidism, can cause obesity. Most obese animals, though, are simply fed too much and don’t get enough exercise. Obesity is a top health concern for veterinarians – excessive weight causes the same problems in pets as it does in humans. Diabetes, heart and lung diseases, bone and joint diseases, skin conditions, and different types of cancer are more common in overweight animals, as is a shorter life expectancy.
The good news is that excess weight is a condition that is treatable! Weight loss in pets requires a lot of owner education, as well as patience and dedication from you, the pet owners, to remain consistent with the weight loss plan. We are here to help and look forward to working with you to help achieve your goals.
So my pet is overweight...what do I do?
Start with Calories
If you do not measure your pet’s food out, you will want to start there. Pick up a measuring cup and measure your pet’s daily food intake. Once we know their current daily intake and which specific diet they are eating (so we have the appropriate calorie content), we can calculate their daily caloric needs.
How to Change a Diet
Some owners decide to switch to the lower calorie form of their current diet, while others decide to change diets completely. No matter what you decide, be sure you gradually introduce the new food. We recommend gradually adding the new diet over a one week period (at first ¼ new diet and ¾ old diet, then ½ of each, then ¼ old diet and ¾ new diet).
Importance of Exercise
No matter what the weather, your pet still needs exercise. For dogs, quicken your pace and walk briskly and gradually add time and distance to your walks. Play fetch and interactive games with your dog. Try to engage your dog in active games for at least 10-15 minutes per day. For indoor cats, use feather toys, flashlights, paper bags or balls, or anything your cat finds interesting to chase. Try to engage your cat in games/activity for 10 minutes daily.
Interactive food-dispensing toys
Your pet loves to play, hunt, and eat so why not pair all of those into feeding time? Interactive feeding is a great way to slow your pet down while eating, as well as providing them a great way to get out some natural instincts. Be sure to pick a toy that your dog or cat enjoys – and where the food falls out a few pieces at a time (instead of dumping out instantly). The Atomic Treat Ball, Kibble Nibble, or Buster Cube are three of the most popular options. Specifically for cats there are many options such as SlimCat food dispenser. No matter which toy you choose, just be sure your kibble is the right size for the opening of the toy and be sure your pet enjoys interacting with it. Pour your pet’s serving of food in the toy and let them enjoy the game! Another game is to toss their food for them to ‘hunt and find.’ Bring their measured meal outside and toss it around the yard for a scavenger hunt. Sit on the couch as you toss food piece by piece onto the floor for them to find. You can also your dog’s serving of food as treats for training (and sharpen up some basic manners or teach fun tricks as well) at mealtime.