Approximately 54% of all domestic dogs and cats in the United States are overweight or obese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. Excess weight in pets puts them at risk for a number of dangerous or life-threatening health conditions, including: high blood pressure, cancer, kidney disease, osteoarthritis, heart and respiratory disease, and insulin resistance/ Type 2 diabetes. Ultimately, obesity can lead to a decrease in life expectancy of up to 2.5 years.
The good news is that there are many steps you can take to prevent pet obesity, just as you can take action to control your own weight. Start with caloric intake. Never put your dog on a diet without the help of a veterinary team, because there may be another medical condition such as hypothyroidism leading to your dog’s weight gain. Once cleared by a vet, you can calculate your dog’s or cat’s caloric needs using their weight as a guide (see here for dogs as an example.) When implementing a dietary transition, allow a few days to a week for your pet to get adjusted.
Exercise is also crucial for weight loss. Take your dog for a brisk walk. The meandering pace that allows your dog to stop and sniff every few feet doesn’t have much effect. Maintain a constant pace that causes you to break a light sweat. For both dogs and cats, get creative with food bowl placement — put the food bowl upstairs so that your pet has to climb to get to it. Also, keep activity interesting with new toys that will make your pets want to move and play.
As always, please consult with your vet before beginning a weight loss regimen! And check out the link below for more information.