For many, a new year means resolutions for healthier eating, increased exercise, and weight loss. Our pets can and should be included in this too! Did you know that nearly 100 million pets in the U.S. are overweight or obese? Pet obesity is the leading health threat to our companion animals today and unfortunately nationwide data shows that obesity rates have been on the rise, making it an epidemic.
Like humans, excessive fat in pets increases the risk of often preventable health conditions and can shorten their lifespan by up to 2 years, as well as greatly reduce their quality of life. The most common obesity-related conditions for dogs & cats can include: arthritis, diabetes, cancer, bladder/urinary tract disease, liver disease, kidney disease, heart failure, and MORE!
Excessive weight gain doesn’t happen overnight. There are a number of contributing factors including:
Genetics - certain breeds are more susceptible to obesity than others.
Overfeeding - pet owners often allow their pet’s to graze or free feed, which results in the consumption of more than their fair share of daily caloric needs. This reason is more prevalent in multi-pet homes.
Feeding High-Calorie Foods - it’s hard to say no to those puppy dog eyes, and a lot of pet owners share their table scraps. The foods we consume are often too rich for our pet’s digestive systems and can quickly add on unnecessary calories.
Lack of Exercise - many pets do not receive adequate exercise to compensate for their daily caloric consumption.
Lack of Awareness - as obesity continues to become common for both humans and pets, pet parents don’t always recognize excessive weight gain in their pets.
So what can we do to help ensure that our pets stay healthy? Preventative care is always the easiest option, but there are a number of easy steps you can take to help your pet reach their goal weight this year - and keep the weight off!
Schedule an annual pet wellness exam with your veterinarian to assess the overall health of your pet(s) and determine a target weight for your pet.
Determine your pet’s daily caloric need to maintain or reach their target weight.
For Weight Loss:
Goal Weight (lbs) / 2.2 = Goal Weight (kg)
(30 x Goal Weight (kg)) + 70 = kcals per day
ie: if your dog’s target weight is 50lbs
50lbs / 2.2 = 22.7kg
(30 x 22.7) + 70 = 751 kcals per day
Maintain a consistent diet by controlling the amount of food given to your pet and supplement with unprocessed whole foods.
Avoid feeding over processed foods and an excessive amount of treats. Just one large biscuit of a popular grocery store brand can add an additional 125 calories to your pet’s diet.
Establish a regular and fun exercise routine. Not only is this an excellent way to bond with your pet, but it can often help you reach your exercise goals too!
Reward good behavior with belly rubs and play time in place of food or treats. Positive reinforcement is a wonderful way to bond with your pet and work on desired behavioral traits, but you don’t always need to use food to reward a positive interaction.
If you have any additional questions about diet or how best to help your pet achieve their target weight, stop into any of our locations and talk to one of team members!