Is our society becoming increasingly overweight and so are our pets? Similar to humans, overweight pets have a much higher risk of disease and other health problems. Let’s have a look at the causes, issues and remedies for overweight dogs and cats.
Put simply, weight issues occur when a pet consumes more kilojoules than they use. Owners are a key part of the problem because they ultimately decide what and how much the pet eats. Other contributing factors include:
1. LACK OF EXERCISE
Regular exercise helps keep dogs in shape, as sedentary dogs are more likely to gain weight than active dogs. And, as cats no longer need to hunt for their food, they typically enjoy a comfortable lifestyle, lazing around indoors.
2. AD- LIB FEEDING
Food should always be adjusted to a pet’s energy requirements. Yet many owners provide constant access to food, assuming the pet will regulate its own intake. This is especially true of cat owners. Be careful on this as it is always tough for self regulation of food! Coming from a human standpoint!
3. TOO MANY TREATS
It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeding your pet whenever they beg for food. However, all those snacks add up to extra kilojoules.
4. BREED DIFFERENCES
Some dog breeds are hardwired to smell out food. These breeds are known for constantly looking for and often stealing food. A strict diet can be helpful for these breeds.
Recent estimates suggest over a third of all pets are overweight, making them prone to a raft of health issues. Diabetes and cardiac disease top the list of weight-related pet diseases. Overweight pets can become less mobile and this can lead to health issues such as joint pain and respiratory problems.
QUALITY OF LIFE
Obese pets will generally have a shorter life span, an overall poorer quality of life and compromised welfare when compared to pets maintained at a healthy weight.
Fortunately, there are plenty of diet and lifestyle changes you can implement to help your pet lose weight and/or maintain a healthy weight. Visit your vet for advice and to rule out underlying medical causes and consider the following strategies:
- MORE DOG WALKS
Most dogs will benefit from more exercise but be sure to make any increases gradual.
2. EXTRA ACTIVITY FOR CATS
Try encouraging your cat to work for their food. Instead of putting food in their bowl, sprinkle some around your house so your cat must find it. Provide them with things to climb, scratching posts and interactive toys.
3. REDUCE KILOJOULES
Your vet can provide guidance for an appropriate diet. Ensure all rewards are healthy.
4. MEASURE MEALS
Don’t just guesstimate the amount of food you’re giving them. Measure out portion sizes accurately.
In summary, the easiest way to prevent your pet from becoming overweight is to make sure that you are feeding them the proper number of daily calories for their age, weight, activity level, breed, and health conditions. Ensuring that they’re getting a healthy amount of daily physical exercise is important, too. And last, but by no means least, working closely with your veterinarian and keeping regular tabs on your pet’s weight is often the final piece of the puzzle to helping your pet (and your wallet) avoid the suffering of excessive weight and weight-related problems.
Check out my related post: Do dogs mirror their owners’ personalities?