In our country, we tend to focus a lot on our health and fitness. Many people spend hours in the gym each week, and there are countless publications and shows devoted to everything from the latest fad diets to new exercise machines to health supplements to weight loss tricks and beyond. People count their calories and try to avoid too much fast food…and while it’s good to make being healthy and fit a priority, in our efforts to improve our own health, it can be easy to overlook our pets’.
Since this month has the National Pet Obesity Awareness Day, we thought it’d be the perfect time to address some of the potential problems obese pets face and some possible solutions for their plight. Sadly, according to recent polls, 58% of cats and 54% of dogs in the US today are overweight or obese. But what’s the problem with a pet adding on a few extra pounds?
For starters, being overweight or obese puts an immense amount of strain on a dog or cats muscles, bones, and joints. Ongoing weight problems can create joint pain, arthritis, or chronic pain. Overweight pets are also at a higher risk of developing diabetes and high blood pressure, which most certainly can become life threatening, especially as they grow older. And those are just a few of the potential problems.
So how to combat this? First, get your dog or cat to a vet; have them checked out to see if they are considered overweight or obese for an animal of their age, size, and breed. If so, find out what their real daily caloric need is and adjust how much you feed them accordingly. It might help to keep a food/meal diary for a few weeks to ensure that you aren’t accidentally slipping in an extra scoop of food each day.
The other main step is to start getting them more exercise. This can be as simple as taking your dog for a daily walk, lengthening the time a bit each week as they lose weight and can go further (this is a great way for people to be more active, too!). Taking your dog to the dog park is also a great option. As for cats, get out some of their favorite tasseled toys or stuffed mice and spend some quality time helping them romp around the house. For dogs and cats, you can even portion out a single meal into several different bowls and place them in different areas of the house, encouraging them to move around during dinner time.
Is your pet suffering from weight problems? How will you creatively help them eat more reasonably and become more active? Let’s all do our part to keep our pets healthy and hale for years to come!
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