This month was National Pet Obesity Awareness Day, and it seems as though the problem of obesity in our companion animals is more prevalent now than ever. It’s very easy to overfeed the cats and dogs who share our homes, whether it’s with treats, scraps from our table, or just their regular pet food. Unfortunately, such overfeeding can bring with it a host of health issues and even shorten an animal’s life expectancy. The good news is that obesity in pets is preventable, and there are lots of actions you can take to ensure your furry friend stays healthy.
Understanding obesity in animals
According to a survey by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, in 2018 approximately 60% of cats and 56% of dogs in the United States were overweight or obese. Overfeeding is one of the primary causes of weight problems in pets, however, there are many other factors that can also play a role. These include lack of exercise, poor nutrition, hormonal imbalances, and genetics.
Just like with humans, maintaining a healthy weight is vital for pets. Obesity can put your cat or dog at risk of developing a number of other health conditions such as diabetes, cancer, arthritis, high blood pressure, respiratory problems, heart disease, kidney disease and more. It can also decrease their quality of life by preventing them from doing the activities that they love.
Ways to prevent obesity in your pet
The first thing to do is find out whether your pet is currently at a healthy weight or not. The easiest way to do this is simply to ask your vet. Then you’ll know if you need to help your pet lose weight, or just maintain their current weight. Warning signs to look out for at home include not being able to clearly see your cat or dog’s waist from above, or not being able to feel their ribs easily.
Knowing how much to feed your animal is key. Purchase a good quality, nutritious pet food from a website such as https://www.diamondpet.com/ and take into account factors like the breed, age, and activity level of your pet when working out their calorie requirements. A scale or measuring cup can help to keep food portions accurate and consistent.
Try and avoid letting your pet snack between meals. The occasional treat is ok, but be aware of how many extra calories you’re adding to their diet. Food puzzle feeders can be a great way to slow down the rate of feeding and add some fun to treat time!
Exercise is another important factor to consider. If you have a dog, you should make sure you walk them every day – no matter the weather – even if it’s just for 20 minutes. Ensuring cats get enough exercise can be a little trickier, but try playing with a laser pointer or other toys daily to help them burn off excess energy and maintain a healthy weight. As well as being good for your pet’s health, these activities can be fun for both you and your companion animal!