Obesity is a prevalent finding in our fur babies, which can significantly affect their overall health. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, more than half of cats and dogs in the United States are overweight or obese. What’s worse is that many pet owners are unaware of the problem; with 22% of dog owners and 15% of cat owners saying their pet's weight was normal when it was actually overweight or obese.
In honor of Pet Obesity Awareness Day, Veterinarian and Pets In Need volunteer board member, Dr. Jack Walkenhorst, discusses pet obesity and shares tips for pet owners to recognize, prevent and treat obesity, before it’s too late.
Obesity is not only an issue in our pets; it’s a cultural problem that has extended to our pets, with many Americans suffering from obesity themselves. Because of the obesity epidemic throughout our culture, many pet owners do not recognize obesity in their pets. Then, even if a pet owner recognizes it, they’re often unaware of the dangers and potential consequences.
Recognizing obesity in your pet is not always easy. Seeing them daily can make it hard to recognize gradual weight gain. Your vet can use a technical process to determine if a pet is 15% over their target weight, making them clinically overweight, or more than 30% over, meaning they’re clinically obese. However, it can be impossible to check those numbers at home, so here are some tips for spotting obesity in your pet:
It can be easy to laugh-off a loveable family pet’s chubby belly, until you know the true dangers and potential consequences of pet obesity. These include:
Pet obesity is a difficult problem to solve because we live in a world of instant gratification. Changing an animal’s diet and exercise routine for a few weeks will not treat or prevent obesity. Treatment is a long-term commitment and a slow, difficult process, especially if an owner has multiple pets or is required to change their lifestyle too. If you’re committed to maintaining a healthy pet, here are some tips to help you get started:
To fight pet obesity, we must raise awareness to help pet owners recognize it, understand the dangers, and take steps toward prevention or treatment. By making a long-term commitment to life-style changes, caregivers have the ability improve and extend the lives of their animal companions. And while it might seem impossible to take on the entire pet obesity epidemic, we can all start by helping one pet, and one pet owner discover the path to weight loss and ongoing healthy living.