Weighing in on Our Pet’s Health

By Rebecca Murray

We all know that pets have a tendency to look like their owners perhaps this is why, according to a 2009 report, about half of our cats and dogs are classified as either overweight or obese. We might think that our roly-poly puppy looks cute with the extra weight but the truth is that just a few extra  pounds on a small animal can have a significant  impact on its overall health and well-being. What’s behind this disturbing trend and what can we do to protect our furry family members?

Just as Americans have become more sedentary so have our pets. With our hectic lifestyles too often we don’t make the time for those morning walks that are vital to a dog’s health. Cat’s need to be engaged and exercised as well but with no time even for ourselves to exercise how do we make the time to breakout the catnip or ball of yarn? Restaurant portions aren’t the only thing getting larger, cats and dogs are eating a lot more than they used to. Whether it’s from table scraps or kibble all these extra calories are going straight to our pets waistlines.

Not only can your pets physical health suffer but obesity can lead to emotional and behavioral problems as well. Diabetes, back problems, joint pain and kidney disease are all attributed to weight gain and can make a pet much more expensive and time consuming to care for but the problems don’t end there. Exercise is a major mood regulator in humans and pets alike. Pets that don’t get enough exercise, at least 30 minutes a day, run the risk of becoming depressed and experiencing increased anxiety. These emotional issues can lead to behavioral problems like chewing and incessant barking.

The good news is that obesity in pets is completely preventable here are some tips for keeping you and your pet happy and healthy.

Get Consistent Exercise Everyday

Two hours once or twice a week won’t cut it your pet needs consistent daily exercise. Shoot for a half hour everyday and not only will your pet be healthier but you might find that your own health and weight will improve.

Portion Control

No matter what kind of pet food you buy there is sure to be a feeding chart on the back of the bag. Read the feeding directions carefully so as to be sure that your pet is getting the proper calories and nutrients at meal time. Just be sure to check with your veterinarian before reducing your pets food intake.

Cut Back on Treats

Just like their human counterparts our pets are eating way more junk food than they did in generations past. Cookies and treats are high in calories and carbohydrates so try to set a limit on how many your pet consumes. Breaking treats in half or substitutuing  healthy treats like baby carrots is a great way to reduce your pets caloric intake while still rewarding their good behavior.

If dog is man’s best friend than we have to do our best to protect his health and well being. If you care for your pet as you would any  human member of your family, ensuring that they get proper exercise and a healthy diet,  than they are sure to reciprocate with many years of love and devotion.