Obesity in Pets
Just like in people, obesity has become a significant health problem in our pets. Obesity in pets is associated with diabetes, respiratory issues, arthritis, and decreased life span. Unfortunately people have equated loving their pets to feeding them excessive amounts of food and treats. Keeping our pets at an ideal body condition is a much better way to love them and to help them have a long, healthy life.
Food for thought:
When trying to manage your pets weight start with the guidelines on the food package, remember they are just guidelines and adjustments will be made based on your pets response. Also feed them for the weight that they should be, not the weight that they are (unless they are at their ideal weight). Keep in mind that when they recommend 1 cup per day they mean a measuring cup, not your extra large coffee cup.
Just like in people, some dogs have the genes that predispose them to being overweight. Some breeds that tend to have a higher incidence of obesity are: Labrador and Golden Retrievers, Pugs, Cocker Spaniels, Shelties, Dachshunds and Beagles. Some dogs also simply have a slow metabolism, this may be due to genetics or it may also be related to health problems like hypothyroidism.
Many people underestimate the impact of treats. Many pet treats are actually higher in calories then their regular food and thus can contribute significantly to weight problems. Four to five treats can translate into another meal’s worth of calories!
Portion control is an important part of a weight management plan. Having regular meal times and measuring out portions is the best way to help your pet lose those extra pounds. If portion control and regular exercise is not working to get the weight off then consider switching to a diet specific for weight loss. These diets tend to have fewer calories and more fiber so that your pet feels full with a lighter caloric load. I also recommend regular weight ins to monitor the animals progress and make sure that the weight is coming off at a reasonable rate.
If you think your pet is overweight have them assessed by your veterinarian, together you can create a weight management plan to get your pet back on a healthy track.