Humans aren’t the only ones who have been packing on the pounds in recent years. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an estimated 54%, or 93 million of dogs and cats in the United States are overweight or obese. Cats alone had the highest obesity rates at 21.4%, while dogs were fairing slightly better with 8.6%. So that means around 6.7 million dogs and 20 million cats are obese.
Being obese means the animal is 20% or more heavier than their ideal body weight, and 5-19% for those that are overweight. When asked by their vets, 90% of dog owners and 54% of cat owners responded that they regularly gave their pets treats. But when their vets tell them their pet is overweight, only about 17% of owners agree.
Why is this happening? The main problem is pet owners who believe feeding their pet large quantities of food and numerous treats is showing their pet love. In reality, doing so is killing their pet, for just like us obesity in pets causes various health problems and shortens their lifespan. A majority of pet food producers aren’t helping either, for they pack their products with byproducts, fillers, and non-digestible ingredients. They are even putting sugar into their treats! As an animal hospital we take obesity in pets very seriously. Our pets are unable to monitor their own health. They don’t understand what calories are or notice that they ingest too many.
There are special diets that we can order to help kick start the weight loss for those patients are severely obese. Hill’s and Royal Canin have diets for both cats and dogs. Treats at home can even be substituted with vegetables. Of course, consult with your veterinarian about dietary counseling or before changing anything in their normal diet to keep from causing gastrointestinal upsets.