One of my pet peeves is seeing overweight dogs and cats. To me, pet obesity borders on abuse. When pet parents equate food with love, they are literally killing their dogs and cats with what only appears to be kindness. My dogs, Sanchez and Gina, are Labs. They’d eat non-stop all day if I let them. It is our responsibility as loving pet owners to keep our pets healthy and fit.
How do you know if your dog is overweight?
Even though over half of the dogs and cats in the U.S. are considered obese or overweight, this is not often an easy discussion for veterinarians to have with clients. Loving dog owners often take it personally and are offended when told their dog or cat is overweight. I’m not a veterinarian, but my personal suggestion: If you can’t see a waistline on your pet, they’re overweight. And if you can’t feel ribs (as suggested by Janet Tobiassen Crosby, DVM), you probably can’t see a waistline.
Pet obesity mirrors human obesity, according to Dr. Kirsten Pieper of the Animal Emergency Clinic of McLean County in Indiana. “We sit on the couch, watching the Kardashians and eating chips and our pets are sitting there too, eating treats,” she said in a recent interview for Pantagraph.com.
In the infograph below, you’ll find some surprising statistics about the pet obesity epidemic in the United States.
Next: What you can do to help Fido get fit
How to Keep Fido Fit
- Go for quality walks together.
- If you have a solid recall, find places to hike off leash together. The smells are stimulating for your dog, and the exercise will benefit both of you.
- Learn a canine sport. Agility, dock diving, musical freestyle, lure coursing, flyball, and dog surfing are some examples. Just make sure to check with your veterinarian first, as Fido may need to take off a few pounds before you ask him to jump over bars.
- Limit Fido’s portions. Use kibble as training treats during the day, instead of feeding him his entire meal at once.
- Weigh him regularly. Since dogs don’t have jeans to zip up, it’s sometimes hard to tell when they’ve put on a few pounds. If you monitor his weight, it’s easier to know when to increase his exercise and decrease his intake.
- Use fresh fruits and vegetables as treats. While dogs shouldn’t eat grapes or onions (or these other “people” foods), there is a long list of produce that is good for them, including bananas, apples, shredded carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and green beans. Just don’t feed them at the table, unless you want to encourage begging during dinner.
Is your pet fat or fit? If the answer is fit, how do you help keep them that way? Thanks for posting your comment below.
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