Help Your Pet Recover from Obesity

8:42:00 PM

Among humans, the problem of obesity is very real. Among pets, obesity is a problem often overlooked. Based on the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention’s (APOP) 2008 Pet Obesity Study, “an estimated 50% of dogs and cats in the United States are overweight or obese.”

Apparently, the prevalence of preventable diseases in pets such as Osteoarthritis, Type 2 Diabetes, Hypertension, Heart Disease, respiratory disorders, and some forms of cancer is directly related to the increase of obesity cases in both dogs and cats.

Causes of Pet Obesity
It is interesting to note that pet owners who lead an inactive lifestyle are most likely to have overweight pets as well. The lack of physical activity can be unhealthy and even dangerous for humans and pets alike.

Having a dog can be physically beneficial if the dog owner actually walks his/her pooch regularly. If you’re too lazy or too busy to go out and walk your dog or run with your dog, either you, your dog or both of you may be at risk of having a weight problem.

Another cause of obesity among pets is an unhealthy feeding routine. Pets have a tendency to overeat and pet owners have a tendency to overfeed. Some pet owners feed their dogs or cats with too much food than their caloric need or body requirement. Just like in humans, the average daily caloric need of a dog or cat will vary depending on its size, age, and breed.

Is My Pet Overweight or Obese?

So how can you tell if your pet is overweight? APOP recommends the 1-5 scale Body Condition Scoring (BCS). The BCS is a recognized system used by veterinarians to determine whether there is a weight problem.

1 is considered to be an emaciated condition; 2 is thin; 3 is the ideal or normal; 4 is heavy or overweight; and 5 is extremely fat or obese. Check here for the complete details of BCS.

If your dog or cat has a sagging tummy, a broad back, has no waist and you can’t feel the ribs under the fat, your pet may have a weight problem. Dogs and cats that are overweight may experience difficulty in breathing or walking, are easily tired, and are often sluggish or sleepy.

Remember, the ideal weight range for dogs and cats differ depending on the size and breed. Take your dog to a certified veterinarian to diagnose and address the problem.

Helping an Overweight or Obese Pet

Here are some tips to help your dog or cat recover from obesity:

Don’t fall for the sad face. The hardest part about controlling a pet’s unhealthy eating habit is saying no when they try to ask or beg for food. But if your pet is overweight, the best way you can show your care is to help him/her regain the ideal body weight.

Introduce exercise or physical activity one step at a time. Never introduce your pet to a rigorous exercise program as this can be fatal to health. It’s best to ask advice from a vet as to what kind of exercise routine you should start with. At first, it should be short sessions doing a mild form of exercise and will slowly progress depending on your pet’s response.

Ask your vet for a healthy diet plan. Again, you cannot drastically change your pet’s feeding habits. Always work with a veterinary or pet nutritionist when introducing a new diet for your dog.

Don’t feed your dog under the table. Dogs must never be fed while the family is eating on the dining table. Teach your kids not to throw or feed bits of food to your dog under the table. Dogs should be trained to eat at their own feeding time. If you feed them at any time of day, they will be confused and they will have a more difficult time adjusting.

Be patient. Don’t expect your pet to reach the ideal body weight quickly. It needs time, patience, discipline and motivation. The important thing is to work closely with your vet and follow the health plan specifically created for your pet.

1. dog
2. cat

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