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.
Your pet ages more quickly than you do, making it essential that he/she be examined at least once a year and even more frequently as they approach their senior life stage. Often, pets begin to develop diseases common to their senior human counterparts, such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, endocrine disease and cancer. These diseases can go unnoticed in their early stages, making preventive health care even more important.
The age at which a pet reaches the senior life stage varies breed and lifestyle. Additional annual screening for diseases and other age related problems should begin at age seven for most cats and small to medium sized dogs. Large and giant breed dogs should be screened starting at age five or six. Wellness testing helps to establish healthy baseline values and identify problems early, rather than waiting for obvious signs of illness. It is recommended for all senior animals as well as any pet exhibiting one or more of the following symptoms:
Changes in your pets mobility
Noticeable weight loss or gain
Loss of appetite
Diarrhea or vomiting
Lumps, bumps or irritation to their skin
Issues with their teeth
Issues with their ears or shaking of head
These behaviors may reveal that further, more specific tests may be needed. Family Pet Clinic in North Richland Hills, TX recommends blood work and a urinalysis yearly to all of our senior pets. It helps to show slight changes in the tests to catch illnesses earlier.
Remember that with your at home observations and yearly tests can prevent or slow down the progression of some diseases. If your older pet is exhibiting any of the above listed behavioral changes, you are the first with a voice to help them find relief.
Did you know…A gain of 2 pounds in a 20 pound dog is equal to a gain of 15-20 pounds in the average adult?
If your pet indulged a little too much over the holidays, a New Year’s Resolution to eat right and shed some weight might be just the thing he or she needs. These simple rules will help your pet start the year off in the right direction:
Calories In, Calories Out: Dogs and cats are no different than people – if they eat too much and aren’t active enough, they’re going to gain weight.
Quality, Not Quantity: A good quality pet food will provide all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals needed to keep your pet healthy. Your veterinarian can advise on how much to feed to obtain your pet’s optimal body weight.
Know Your Pet’s Lifestage: Puppies and kittens need more calories than adult pets to help them grow. Most senior pets need higher levels of fiber and fewer calories. Just like all pets are unique, all diets are not built the same.
Diet Impacts Overall Health: The right diet can help alleviate and treat skin problems, gingivitis, and scores of other medical issues.
What is your New Year’s resolution for your furry companion going to be this year?