He's just fluffy. Aww, look at her cute little belly! He's just getting older. These are some of the things we say about our pets to make light of the fact that they might be overweight. As pet parents, we must realize that pet obesity is something we need to take seriously as it could lead to many preventable diseases and ailments. Over the last five years, both dog and cat obesity have been on the rise. In the United States, an estimated 55% of our beloved pets are currently classified as overweight. Pet parents should be concerned! Recent data shows that this elevated number of overweight or obese pets led to over $54 million in pet insurance claims.
What are some of the risks involved with pet obesity?
Many of these claims were related to conditions including:
Osteoarthritis, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart and respiratory disease, cranial cruciate ligament injury, kidney disease, many forms of cancer, and decreased life expectancy (up to 2.5 years)! As we know, our pet's lifespan is much shorter than our own, so while 2 years may not seem as impactful for us, for our pets it is greatly significant.
So, what can we as pet parents do about it?
Once you've determined that your pet is overweight or obese, it is time to create a plan for feeding them, cutting back on bad habits, and incorporating daily exercise. Introducing your pet to a healthier life not only benefits your pet, but you as well. Here are a few helpful tips to help your pet get back to their ideal weight:
No table scraps. We know they're cute, but stay strong. People food is for people, and some foods that are safe and healthy for us can seriously pack the pounds on your pets.
Consistency is key. Monitor and regulate the amount of food you give your pet. An automatic feeder, like the GAMMA2 Nano Automated Pet Feeder, can help keep portions in check and maintain a daily feeding schedule for your pets. Storing pet food securely and out of your pet's reach with our cat and dog feeding accessories can prevent your mischievous one from secretly snacking throughout the day.
Limit the number of treats you give your pet. They should be given sparingly and to reward good behavior.
Establish an exercise schedule. Don't worry, this can be fun for both of you! Daily walks or runs for dogs are an excellent way to get a good nights sleep and stay active throughout the day. Interactive fetch toys, like the iconic Chuckit! Launcher and Ultra Ball, also allow you and your pet to play together. If you'd prefer to create boundaries that your dog can have fun freely in, you can also use an exercise pen. Not only is this healthy and vital to keeping pets trim, but it also helps to strengthen the bond between the two of you.
Cats benefit from daily exercise too. While it's not as common to walk a cat outside on a leash, wand toys with life-like prey, such as JW Pet's Fluter-ee Feathers Cat Wand hone in on your cat's natural hunting instinct and encourage them to play.
So next time you want to say Aww or giggle at a chubby dog or cat, remember that obesity in pets is a serious matter, but very preventable with the right diet and exercise.
For more information on pet weight management, consult your veterinarian.