When I was growing up my best pal was our Golden Retriever named Cal. Cal was massive, and I don’t mean that in a good way. We lost Cal at an early age because of a heart attack. Back then we just didn’t realize the impact his weight could have on him. Today obesity is the most common nutritional disorder affecting pets. Surveys now estimate that 25% of dogs and cats in the U.S. seen in veterinary clinics are obese.
Sutdies have proven that obese dogs and cats have a lower life expectancy and are more at risk for many diseases: arthritis, diabetes, joint injuries, heart disease, bladder cancer. Cats are at high risk for hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease). Also, certain breeds are more predisposed to obesity these include Golden Retrievers, LAbrador Retrievers, Dachshunds, Shelties, Basset Hounds, Beagles, Cocker Spaniels and Cairn Terriers. Mix breed cats also tend to be more prone to it than purebreds.
So how can you keep your dog or cat healthy? In many ways:
- Ignore feeding instructions on pet-food labels. Every dog is different and needs a different amount of food each day. The best bet is to consult with your veterinarian to see how much you should be feeding your dog each day. Cats lose weight faster on wet food, dry food is the equivalent of candy. Switch them over gradually. But please note not all cats will eat wetfood and cats will starve themselves which can lead to liver problems. So try it gradually.
- Weigh on a regular basis. Extra pounds can sneak on unnoticed. Most vet offices will allow weigh-ins at no cost to you.
- If you have a dog walk, walk, walk. Play fetch in the yard. If you have a cat pull a string around the house. I have a cat who fetches a ball and we play often. However, please do not use a laser pointer. Cats have a high prey drive and it is cruel to use a laser because they can never catch their target and this can increase their risk for developing OCD behaviors. Remember your pets need exercise as much as you do.
- Trade in those high fat snacks for praise. This can mean belly rubs and playtime as opposed to a snausage. Also, most dogs love carrots, they are crunchy. So substitute carrots for that milkbone. Ever look up the calories in a milkbone? Please do you will be astonished.
- Most importantly don’t try to take the weight off too fast. It took itme to pack it on and it will take time to get it off. With diligence you will succeed and be on your way to a healthier pet.