Obesity in America is a very popular subject online, TV, and everywhere else!
People are always on one diet or another trying to achieve the ultimate goal of losing weight.
Some do it to look better, some because of health issues. Whatever your reason is, the bottom line is “it’s not healthy to be overweight“!
What about our pets?
Shouldn’t our pets health be just as important as our own?
Pet obesity is a growing problem in America. According to the Association for Pet Obesity the most recent clinical survey revealed that “56% of dogs and 60% of cats were classified as clinically overweight by their veterinary healthcare professional. That equals an estimated 50.2 million dogs and 56.5 million cats are too heavy“.
Feeding your pet too much food, too many treats, or letting your pets eat table food is ‘not’ doing your pet any favors and can lead to obesity!
Years ago, we took our dogs and cats to the vet and found out that they were a little overweight.
The vet said he’d like them each to lose a couple of pounds, so of course we got right on it!
We checked online and found a calorie counter, and calculated the number of calories each pet should be consuming daily.
There are many canine and cat calorie counters online, and here is an example of one canine counter.
Your vet may have a better one in mind, just ask!
All you need to do is enter in your dog’s ideal weight, select the measure of weight, and hit “calculate”.
Once we figured out how much food they should be consuming, based on activity level, we viewed the number of calories on the food labels and adjusted portions accordingly.
Make sure the the bag, box or can that your food is in, lists the number of calories.
If for some reason it doesn’t, you should be able to find it online.
We weighed them about a month later and all were down to their desired weights.
Our vet was very happy and so were we.
From that time on, we vowed to keep all of our pets weights under control.
Along with their dog food, we give veggies such as zucchini, tomatoes, and carrots as treats, and the dogs love them!
Occasionally, we will give them peanut butter and banana natural treats, but they only get “one” after each walk or potty break.
Absolutely no table food or unlimited treats!
We all want our pets to live long and happy lives.
If it means withholding treats or table food, so be it. Don’t worry, your pets will not starve and they will still love you!
On the Petcoach.com website, they have a list of what they look for to determine if your pet is overweight.
- To perform the rating, we first feel the pet’s ribs. We should be able to quite easily feel the ribs. There should be a slight amount of fat over them, but each rib should be distinct. If you can see the ribs, the pet is too thin. If you can not feel them at all, the pet is very overweight.
- Second, check the area near the base of the tail. There should be a slight fat covering over this area and it should feel smooth. If the bones protrude, the pet is too thin; if you can not feel any bones at all, the pet is very overweight.
- Third, feel other bony prominences on the pet’s body such as the spine, shoulders, and hips. Again, you should be able to feel a small amount of fat over these areas. If these bones are easily felt or visible, the dog or cat is too thin. If you can not feel the bones beneath the layer of fat, the animal is obviously overweight.
- Fourth, look at your pet from above. The animal should have a definite waist behind the ribs. If the waist is extreme, or again, bony prominences are visible, the animal is too thin. If there is no waist, or worse yet, the area between the ribs and hips is wider than the hips or ribs, the dog or cat is grossly overweight.
- Fifth, look at the pet from the side. Dogs and cats should have an abdominal tuck, i.e., the area behind the ribs should be smaller in diameter than the chest. This can vary a lot between breeds. Irish Setters and Greyhounds, for instance, appear to have a much more distinct abdominal tuck, since they are so deep-chested. An animal who is too thin will have a very severe abdominal tuck. Overweight animals will have no abdominal tuck.
Shockingly, some vets will not tell the owners that their pets are overweight because they are afraid of hurting feelings and uncomfortable conversations!
If you think your pet is overweight, or if you are not sure, ask the vet yourself!
Most vets are truthful with the owners about their pets being overweight (like ours did), but many owners refuse to adjust the pets diet.
If you’ve been told that your pet is overweight, it’s very important that you listen to your vet and follow instructions, for the sake of your pet.
Pet Health Network says that “there are 7 conditions that overweight pets can have. Here are the conditions listed on their website“:
Extra weight puts extra pressure on a dog’s joints. The cartilage in the joint deteriorates, which leads to arthritis. Sure, we can give pain medications, but weight loss helps significantly.
Too much weight is a well-known risk factor for tearing the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), an important ligament in the knee. A torn ACL must be repaired with surgery.
Heart and breathing conditions
Weight gain can cause heart disease and high blood pressure. It’s also linked to breathing problems. Overweight dogs are more prone to a collapsing trachea and laryngeal paralysis. Untreated, these airway conditions could lead to a respiratory crisis which could be fatal if not treated.
The heart and lungs of overweight and obese dogs have to work harder during anesthesia. The dog struggles to breathe because he has difficulty expanding his chest. Dogs often sleep too deeply or not deeply enough. In addition, overweight dogs may take a long time to wake up after anesthesia.
Obesity may increase the risk of certain tumors such as benign fatty tumors (lipomas), as well as breast and bladder cancer (transitional cell carcinoma).
Overweight dogs have extra skin folds, which can cause irritation and infection by bacteria. This can lead to scratching, body odor and skin redness. Overweight dogs often have an unhealthy looking coat because it’s harder, if not impossible, for them to groom effectively.
Quantity and quality of life
Obesity can take up to 2 years off the life of your dog! Quality of life is also lower. Carrying extra pounds around takes a toll; overweight dogs are slow to get down and up, they get winded or tired quickly and are less likely to play.
Vet bills, medications and surgery are quite expensive. If you take care of your pet and control their weight, you may have a good chance of visiting your vet only once a year for a health checkup.
Keeping your pet healthy and at the correct weight, might save you money too!
In addition to counting calories and adjusting diets, we need to make sure that our pets get exercise.
It’s good for them and it’s good for you!
There’s no better way to have fun getting Fitbit steps!
Let’s be reminded that our pets love us unconditionally, let’s show how much we love them too!
What tips do you have for a pet that’s overweight?
Please leave a comment!
If you don’t have a Fitbit, here’s where you can get one!
It’s a great motivator!