Has Fido or Bootsie been looking a little pudgy lately? It’s definitely a possibility considering a new study reveals 54% of dogs and 58% of cats are overweight or obese. Surprisingly though, up to 90% of owners don’t realize their pet has gained too much weight, which is a problem because extra weight on your pet can cause diabetes, cancer, and heart and joint diseases, among other conditions.
Why More Pets Are Plus-Size
For one, dogs are less active than ever, in part due to increasingly sedentary owners who take them on fewer walks.
But perhaps the biggest reason both dogs and cats are too heavy, is simple: we overfeed them.
Most owners eyeball and overestimate portion sizes, and many equate food with love and dole out too many treats. What’s more, many people no longer have a clear idea of what overweight actually look likes because so many animals are heavy these days.
How To Tell Whether Your Pet Is Overweight
You should be able to easily feel (though not see) your pet’s ribs. Try the knuckle test: hold your right hand out flat, palm down, then run your left fingers over the knuckles at the base of your right fingers. That’s what your pet’s ribs should feel like—easy to count without having to push into your pet’s body.
Or look at your pet from above. The body should have an hourglass shape—broader at the chest, with a tuck before the hip bones. For the most accurate assessment, ask your vet to check your pet’s body condition score. This score, based on a 5- or 9-point scale, determines a healthy weight and allows your vet to offer personalized feeding and exercise advice.
3 Tips For Safe Weight Loss
If your pet is too heavy and you’ve ruled out a separate underlying cause, follow these tips.
#1: Nix treats
Store-bought treats and chews have little nutritional value compared with commercial foods and some contain 100+ calories each. Healthier rewards: For dogs, carrot and apple slices, green beans, or plain popcorn, and for cats, offer tiny bits of zucchini or cooked chicken or fish.
#2: Assess portions
Check pet-food labels to make sure you’re feeding your dog or cat based on his or her ideal weight, not current weight. Use a measuring cup to be sure you’re not over- or underestimating.
#3: Get up and move
For your heavy but otherwise healthy dog, work up to at least two brisk 30-minute walks a day. Most large breeds can handle two 1-hour walks. Exercise your cat with a feather teaser several times a day, have her chase the red dot of a laser pointer, or put some of her food in a food-dispensing toy that releases kibble when she bats it around.
Article courtesy of Prevention.com