The obesity epidemic is no longer just a human problem – obesity in pets is also on the rise. Currently, over half of all pet dogs and cats are considered overweight, and it has become one of the most common conditions our veterinarians see.
Overweight pets face many of the same serious health risks as overweight humans, including heart disease, high blood pressure, joint pain, osteoarthritis, diabetes, and certain cancers. And, as in humans, many of these problems can be helped and managed without medications, by losing the extra pounds and adding some physical activity.
Studies have shown that keeping your pet at it’s ideal weight can help your pet live two to three years longer. Your team at Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center is committed to helping you optimize your pet’s health through the prevention and treatment of obesity.
Less Is More
The old adage “eat less, move more” has long been touted as the key to weight loss in humans, and the same can be said for pets. It’s easy to overfeed pets, especially when many pet owners are unaware of how much their pet should be eating. Too much food at meal time, extra treats throughout the day, and extended periods of inactivity, especially as the cold weather sets in, all contribute to weight gain in pets.
Consider the following when it comes to helping your pet maintain a healthy weight:
Portion control – Commit to following your veterinarian’s guidelines for how much, and how often, your pet should be eating. Measure your pet’s portions and limit or eliminate treats. Pet foods vary widely in calorie and nutritional content, as well as in manufacturer’s guidelines for how much to feed. Your veterinarian can help you sort through pet food products, and determine the daily calorie count and portion size that will help your pet reach it’s weight goal.
Giving Treats – You can control calories and still give treats to your pet by using your pet’s own food. Just remove a few kibbles from your pet’s meal and give them at a different time of the day as a treat. This will allow you to give your pet treats without increasing your pet’s total daily calories.
Nutrient balance – Your pet’s nutrition should never be sacrificed in the name of weight, but you can succeed at both. Continue to provide your pet with the highest quality pet food possible by reading pet food labels carefully and by adhering to your veterinarian’s advice regarding any prescription or special diet that is best for your pet’s needs.
Behavior modification – Rather than allow your pet to have access to food at all times, place his or her bowl down only at mealtimes and remove the bowl once your pet has finished eating. This helps to take the focus off of food and allows you to measure and control the correct portions for your pet.
Get Moving – It’s no secret that exercise is an essential component in weight loss. Pets should have plenty of opportunities for age appropriate physical activity each day, such as walks, fetch or Frisbee, feather or laser pointer chase. Obstacle courses, agility training, and even obedience classes are great ways for pets to burn calories indoors during the winter months.
Preventing Obesity In Pets
If your pet is overweight, our veterinarians will work with you to establish a healthy weight goal, address any underlying medical issues that could be contributing to the weight gain, and come up with a plan to get your pet back to his or her ideal weight. Be sure to bring your pet in for all regularly scheduled wellness visits to give your veterinarian the chance to continue to evaluate and help you maintain your pet’s weight and good health.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns regarding your pet’s weight status.