Obesity is not just a problem for people, our pets are packing on the pounds too. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, it’s estimated that over 45 per cent of all the pets in North America are overweight or obese. The major cause of this epidemic is overfeeding. Overfeeding our pets can lead to a number of significant health concerns. Not only can obesity shorten our pets’ lives, the health risks can include Type II diabetes, respiratory disorders and many forms of cancer.
It’s important to periodically check your pet’s weight throughout all life stages. Putting your pets on a scale is not the best way to evaluate their weight because within each breed there are varying sizes and weights. Instead, look at the appearance of your pet. This means you should be able to feel the ribs easily without pressing, but you should not be able to see the ribs through the coat. The torso should also resemble an hourglass when viewed from above.
You can conduct these quick checks on your own but since it can be hard for pet guardians to be objective, it’s best to seek a second opinion. If you’re pet is overweight, make sure there is no medical reason for the extra pounds before putting them on a diet.
Portion control is the number one way to combat obesity. Feeding recommendations or instructions on your pet’s food are sometimes inflated. The portion size on the packaging is for the average pet. Lifestyle, activity level and age also affect how much food a pet should receive. If your pet is overweight, feed less from the recommended amount and adjust from there.
Measuring out your pets’ food may not be as convenient as filling a bowl and letting them “graze” for the day, but the benefits far outweigh the extra time it takes to measure. And, feeding your pets two to three times a day will keep you in control of how much they eat and should keep any hunger pangs at bay.
If your pet is on a weight-loss program, it may be difficult to resist the temptation to give them more food when they look at you with their begging eyes or paw at their dish. The solution is to give them some extra attention. Most pets will substitute a walk, some TLC or chasing their favourite ball for that extra portion of food. Besides, most pets could probably use a little extra exercise.