How big an issue is pet obesity?
When I set out to write this article, I imagined the number of pets considered obese to be very low. But according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), veterinarians estimate about 59% of all pets are obese. In the last ten years there has been a 169% increase in the number of overweight cats and a 158% increase in the number of overweight dogs.
As with humans, risk factors make certain pets more likely to have weight issues. For example, the information provided by APOP shows obesity is seen more often in neutered pets and increases with the age of both humans and animals. And it makes sense that overweight humans are likelier to have overweight pets.
How do I know if my pet is obese?
Start by asking your your veterinarian. The best weight for one dog or cat will not be the best for another. Look at your pet. His shape should not be rounded. Instead, he should have a well-defined waist. You should be able to feel his ribs easily, but they should not be pronounced.
But what's wrong with pets being a little overweight?
In this respect, animals are different from humans. A couple of extra pounds on a small dog or cat is quite different than a few pounds on a person. According to the experts, keeping our pets at a healthy weight will help them live 2-3 years longer. And, of course, carrying around extra weight invites arthritis and other painful conditions, and pain can be scary to a pet who doesn't understand why he hurts.
What to do if your pet is obese?
You could try one of several "diet" pet foods on the market. But the best source for information on this topic is your veterinarian. The food you've been using is often okay - IF you use the correct serving amount provided on the label. Chances are, if your pet is obese, you've been feeding him at least 1/4 to 1/2 cup too much food at each meal.
A cat with a weight issue should be able to lose between .2 and 2 percent of his weight a month. Dogs should not lose more than 2-3 percent of their weight over a month. But never start a pet on any food-restrictive plan until you get the go-ahead from your vet.
Also, like humans, it's easier to keep weight under control if daily exercise is involved. Ask your veterinarian how much your particular pet should get, and then come up with an easy-to-follow, fun regime in which you may be able to participate as well. Think "hide and seek," playing ball, or just walking around your neighborhood. Then, get moving and get your pet moving for a healthy future for the two of you.
Quote to remember: "I ain't fat, I'm just easy to see." - That cat you just saw
"10 Pet Obesity Statistics & Facts to Know in 2022 (Dogs, Cats, & Other Pets)"
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"National Pet Obesity Awareness Day"