Chubby pets can be adorable, but what’s going on inside their bodies is not so cute.
Pet obesity is a major problem in the United States. It’s estimated that more than half of cats and dogs in the country are overweight or obese, according to a 2018 survey from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention.
These figures translate to some very real consequences for our furry loved ones.
One study, published in 2018 in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, found that the lifespan of overweight dogs could be up to two and a half years shorter in comparison to the lifespan of dogs with a healthy weight.
That’s definitely a sobering thought for pet owners.
The Impact of Obesity on Pets
So what exactly are some of those health concerns that owners should be concerned about?
Well, there are plenty.
A pet carrying extra pounds may be at increased risk for diabetes, liver and heart dysfunction, pancreatitis, and respiratory problems. Urinary tract issues, fatigue, and arthritis are concerns as well.
Excess weight puts a strain on the joints, making it more difficult for an animal to perform normal physical activities. Pain, mobility issues, and a lack of energy can all be detrimental to a pet’s quality of life.
One study published in The Veterinary Journal in 2012 looked at the impact of a weight loss program on 50 obese dogs. Those pets who failed to lose weight were found to have higher levels of emotional disturbance and decreased vitality. Dogs who lost weight had increased vitality as well as lower levels of pain and emotional issues.
How to Help Pets Lose Weight
If all this has inspired you to help your portly pet trim down, the first thing to do is make an appointment with the veterinarian.
During the visit, you can find out a) how many pounds your dog or cat needs to lose and b) if an underlying medical condition—such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease—is driving the weight gain.
If there aren’t any diseases at play, it’s time to develop a lifestyle plan. There are no big secrets; a healthy diet and increased physical activity are recommended.
Your veterinarian can help determine if food changes need to be made. You may also want to switch some of those dog cookies out for healthier fruits and veggies. Options that may get the okay from the vet include carrots, green beans, blueberries, and apples.
Oh, and don’t fall for those sad eyes at the dinner table. The calories in those table scraps add up fast.
There are lots of ways to squeeze in more physical activity for pets—and they may even help you get in some more exercise too. More frequent walks, extra playtime, and visits to dog-friendly parks or trails are some activities to consider.
Disclaimer: The contents of the Lazy Days Pet Sitting Service website and blog are for informational purposes only. None of the material is intended to serve as professional veterinary advice. The provided information cannot be used to diagnose or treat pet health issues.