Fat CatWe hear a lot about the obesity epidemic and all the health problems associated with a sedentary lifestyle. The same epidemic is happening with our pets. An estimated 58% of cats and 53% of dogs are overweight or obese.

As we continue to learn how this impacts the health of our four-legged friends, the old idea of a cute fat cat or pudgy pug can be detrimental. Obesity in pets is a serious concern that can lead to diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and liver problems.

Is My Pet Obese?

One of the most common reasons weight management is such an issue is because many pet owners don’t notice an increase in weight. Although one or two pounds may seem harmless, that’s actually a significant increase on a 12-pound animal. That’s why we encourage owners to maintain annual wellness exams. These visits are crucial to monitoring changes in your pet’s health, including weight and muscle mass.

One way to determine whether your pet is at a healthy weight is to look for a defined waist. To do this, stand over your pet looking down at the torso. There should be a gentle contour inward, defining the waistline. Also consider your pet from the side, looking for an upward slope from your pet’s chest or hind quarters to the stomach.

For a visual reference, try the Purina Body Condition charts for dogs and cats. Also review our step-by-step instructions on how to determine if your pet is overweight.

Preventing Obesity in Pets

No pet’s health should be in jeopardy because of his or her weight. The good news is that obesity in pets is preventable. To keep your cat or dog at an ideal weight, follow these simple tips:

  • Know your pet’s recommended weight range.
  • While it can vary, generally 20-30 minutes of exercise each day is beneficial for all pets, young and old (consult your veterinarian for specific recommendations).
  • Read the label on your pet’s food and stick to the recommended portion size for your pet’s age, weight, health, and lifestyle.
  • Measure your pet’s meals – do not use self-refilling bowls.
  • Resist the urge to use treats as a reward. Change it up with verbal praise or give extra play and snuggle time.
  • To encourage movement, place your pet’s food bowl on the other side of the house away from his or her bed (unless mobility issues are present).  
  • If your pet likes to inhale his or her dinner, consider purchasing a food dispensing puzzle to slow the rate of ingestion.  

If your pet is struggling with the battle of the bulge, get him or her back on track. Call us to make an appointment today!