“In the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention's 2017 clinical survey, 56% of dogs and 60% of cats were classified as clinically overweight or obese by their veterinary healthcare professional. That equals an estimated 50.2 million dogs and 56.5 million cats are too heavy, based on 2017 pet population projections provided by the American Pet Products Association (APPA). In 2016, APOP found 54% of dogs and 59% of cats were overweight or obese. The number of pets with clinical obesity continues to increase states APOP Founder, veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward. We’re continuing to see more pets diagnosed with obesity rather than overweight. Clinical obesity results in more secondary conditions such as arthritis, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and certain forms of cancer. Pets with obesity also have reduced quality of life and shorter life expectancy,” explains PetObesityPrevention.org.

Obesity

How do I know if my cat or dog is obese? You have many options to find out. Here are two methods to determine if your furry friend is obese:

  1. Contact a local Vet and have a thorough exam to measure their health.
  2. PetMD has a Healthy Weight Calculator for your dog or cat.

Consequences of obesityBeing overweight or obese, can have many consequences which are dangerous. Here are a few of them:

  • Reduced life expectancy
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Skin disorders
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Orthopedic disease
  • Kidney dysfunction
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • High blood pressure
  • Cancer
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Metabolic and endocrine disorders

Reasons

Here are several reasons why pets are obese from the survey referenced above:

  • Biggest challenge to exercise your dog was the owner was too busy
  • Inadequate access to exercise areas
  • Physical limitations of owner.
  • Vet failed to recommend a maintenance or routine diet

Ways to lose weight

Weight Watchers suggests four ways to help your pet lose a few pounds:

1. A little healthy “people” food may help While you should always check with your vet first, there’s nothing wrong with serving your pet a hybrid of commercial food and some people food, Ward says. “I love giving my dogs a variety of veggies, like broccoli, celery, and asparagus, and apples as low-calorie crunchy treats,” he says. “My cats love a flake of salmon or tuna; that really satisfies them.” One warning: Never feed a pet chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions, or small round foods as they may cause health problems, especially for dogs.

2. Get them up and moving How much activity does your animal need? Use this gauge: Dogs should get 30 minutes of exercise a day, but this can be broken up into 10-minute intervals during the day, Ward says. Cats need to bust a move, too. “The minimum exercise for a cat is three 5-minute play periods a day,” Ward says. “Play with a laser pointer or feather dancer, or have them chase a toy.”

3. Don’t expect big losses For a cat, a 5-pound weight loss is a lot. A good goal is about a half-pound lost per month with veterinary supervision, Ward says. Dogs and humans are much more similar when it comes to weight loss, however. “Like us, dogs can get into an aerobic state, whereas cats will do 90 seconds of effort and be done for hours.” This means that with exercise a dog can lose 1 to 2 percent of its body weight per month.

4. Endure the begging How can you handle the constant begging/whining/meowing that results anytime an animal sees food? “Increase the lean protein in your pet’s diet to provide more satiety,” Ward says. Here’s another trick: “Whatever you’re feeding your pet, reserve 20 to 25 percent for a meal right before bed. This will buy you a good night’s rest, too.”

It’s never too late to reduce your pet’s chances of contracting one of these grim disorders. Early recognition and awareness are the best defense against many diseases. Talk with a local veterinary about your loved one and set up a plan to lose the weight and get healthy if they need it.

Animal Care Center in Smyrna, GA, is owned and operated by Otto H. Williams, DVM. The veterinary practice specializes in complete healthcare for cats and dogs and offers services including preventative, surgical and nonsurgical care, internal medicine, grooming and boarding to Cobb County and surrounding cities such as Vinings, Marietta, Mableton and Sandy Springs. Call today at 770.438.2694 or request an appointment.