Is Your Pet Overweight?
If your pet is piling on too many pounds, we’ve got some tips and tricks to help.
Is your beloved pet a little, well, portly? If so, you’re not alone.
A recent U.S. survey found that a whopping 53 per cent of cats and 55 per cent of dogs are overweight or obese. A recent study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) looked at data from veterinary clinics across the country. And the results showed that our furry family members are growing — and not in a good way.
“This year’s data suggests that our pets are getting fatter,” APOP founder Dr. Ernie Ward said in a release. “We’re seeing a greater percentage of obese pets than ever before.”
The group began conducting nationwide veterinary surveys in 2007. Since that time it has seen a steady increase of pets that are classified as overweight or obese. (To be considered obese, a pet is at least 30 per cent above normal body weight).
In 2007, for example, about 19 per cent of cats were found to be obese by their veterinarian and in 2010 that number increased to almost 22 per cent. And for dogs, obesity rates nearly doubled from just over 10 per cent in 2007 to 20 per cent in 2010.
Shed unwanted pet pounds
Want to help your fat cat or pudgy pooch shed some pounds? For many pets, unhealthy weight gain is a result of taking in too many calories and getting too little exercise. Sound familiar? In many ways, the basic weight loss strategies for pets are much the same as for humans.
Get regular exercise. Regular exercise not only helps to keep your pet (and you) fit, but it’s a great time for bonding and sharing some good old-fashioned fun. How much exercise is enough? According to the Canadian Veterinary Association, dogs should have a brisk walk at least twice daily for 15 to 20 minutes. For cats, schedule at least two 15-minute play times each day. (Note: Your pet should not exercise 30 minutes before or after eating a meal.)
Tips and tricks:
— Start slow. Like us, our pets need to work up to being fit, particularly if they are overweight. Carrying extra pounds puts additional strain on joints, muscles, and the heart and respiratory system. To be on the safe side, you may want to start by visiting your veterinarian for a physical examination and ask for advice on a safe workout regimen for you and your pet.
Provide a healthy diet. If you notice your pet is packing on unwanted pounds, it’s a good idea to speak to your veterinarian about dietary choices, since he or she is familiar with your pet and medical history.
Tips and tricks
— Scrap the table scraps. Despite the best of intentions, those yummy leftovers and table scraps aren’t always in the best interest of your dog or cat. Leftovers can contribute to unhealthy weight gain — and also cause pets to go off their regular food, which understandably, tastes bland in comparison.
— Control portion size. Your veterinarian can suggest a ‘reduction’ or lower calorie diet for your overweight pet, but in some cases it’s simply a matter of overfeeding at meal times and giving too many treats.
— Try healthier snacks. Many pet snacks are loaded with fat, sugar, food dyes and other unhealthy ingredients. Consider buying smaller sized treats or natural low-calorie snacks such as raw carrots and unbuttered, unsalted air-popped popcorn.