October is Pet Obesity Awareness Month. Pets give their owners joy and companionship, and some even provide life services. Everyone who owns a pet wants that animal to live a long and healthy life. But more than half the pet cats and dogs in the US are overweight or obese.
According to 2013 statistics gathered by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 30% of pet cats are overweight, and another 20% are obese. Dogs fare no better. 36% were reported overweight, and another 17% were obese.
These figures in actual numbers mean that 55 million cats are at least overweight, and 26.2 million cats are obese. For dogs, this means 43.8 million are at least overweight, and 113.9 million are obese.
Risk factors for overweight and obese pets are high. Some of them include osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, ligament injury, kidney disease, cancer and at least a 2.5 year decreased life expectancy.
As examples of human to pet weight translation, a 12 pound Yorkie is equivalent to a female weighing 218 pounds. For more comparisons, click here. Although these figures give a theoretical idea, only your veterinarian can accurately diagnose any pet’s actual body condition.
Preventing or reducing pet obesity
There are some easy ways to help a pet lose weight and become healthier.
Feed a pet the recommended amount at mealtime. Pet food containers (cans, bags, etc.) list recommended amounts for pets by age, weight, and other factors. Some brands of pet food now have a weight reduction option available. Your vet is the best guide for your specific pet’s needs.
Avoid giving treats often. Treats are food and can contain as many calories as an entire meal. Pets don’t need treats when they are properly fed.
When a pet whines for a treat, give them an alternative, like more attention, a brushing, or some outdoor exercise time.
All dogs need daily exercise. The amount depends on the breed of your dog, age, health factors, and other variables. Ask your vet for advice. Cats also need exercise, but usually a different kind than dogs do. Indoors cats can get lots of exercise through toy play when you lead it.
Every pet should have an annual vet visit to oversee its general health. Ask your vet about proper food, exercise, and other information and advce to keep your pet healthy and on a plan to be fit for life.
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