With the New Year comes resolutions, and top of the list is often weight loss. This year while you’re watching your waistline, take a closer look at your pet’s physique as well. According to a recent survey by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, roughly 54 percent of dogs and 58 percent of cats are overweight. That’s nearly 80 million pets needing to shed pounds. Just like with people, excess weight can cause a variety of health problems, including diabetes, arthritis, respiratory issues, and premature death—roughly two to two-and-a-half years—all reasons enough to cut back on the treats and increase exercise.
Training Tip: “To wean your pet off unhealthy, high-calorie treats, try crunchy veggies like baby carrots or broccoli for your dog, and flakes of tuna or salmon for your cat,” says Dr. Ward.
The key to keeping your pet fit is recognizing what a healthy physique looks like.
Dr. Ward offers these three simple tips to determine if your cat or dog is at an ideal weight:
- Look at him from the side while he’s standing. If his belly is hanging down or protruding, that’s consistent with extra belly fat. You should see a gentle slope upward, not a sway downward.
- Assess your pet from above. When he’s standing over his food bowl, look at his shape. He should have an hourglass figure; if he’s ballooning at the midsection or hips, it indicates he’s storing fat in his abdomen.
- Finally, feel his ribs. You should be able to feel them within a quarter of an inch under the skin.
According to Dr. Ward, even if you think your pet is at a normal weight, he just may be overweight. In fact, the same survey found that among the pets assessed by their vets as obese, nearly 90 percent of their owners assessed their weight as normal.
“People and vets need to have this conversation,” says Dr. Ward. “Ask your vet if your pet is at a healthy weight and if not, work on a diet and weight loss plan together. It’s not something that happens overnight, but with effort, we can reverse debilitating diseases like diabetes, reduce the crippling effects of arthritis, and solve symptoms of respiratory distress.”
For more info: petobesityprevention.org