By Katy Cable-TWR
A 3 min. Read
You don’t need to be a genius to guess the number one New Year’s Resolution is: Lose Weight & Get in Shape. Well, it might be a great resolution for your dog as well. Did you know the number one, single most important thing you can do to add years and quality to your pet's life is: keep them from becoming overweight. What and how much you feed your precious fur-baby is the number one component for all aspects of your dog's health, longevity and quality of life. The good news is with just a little will power on your part it can be done quite easily. Keep in mind, YOU 'RE in control of the bowl and what goes into your dog's body is 100% your responsibility.
I'm not trying to be judgmental. When our family first went looking for a Pug to adopt, I gravitated towards all the enormous ones. I thought "the-bigger-the-better. " I found the huge Pugs cuter and more cuddly (maybe because they couldn't move) and that a gi-nornous Pug was the true standard of the breed. I had no idea a huffing, puffing, snorting fur baby with its belly dragging on the ground and no visible waist was morbidly obese, Luckily the rescue group educated me on the importance of weight management. Those overweight Pugs were on strict diets and they would retrieve any dog that wasn't adhering to optimum nutrition for healthy weight control. Thankfully we ended up with a lean, active, healthy Pug and a valuable lesson in pet nutrition.
The next eye-opener was how food-obsessed Pugs can be. They will literally eat themselves to DEATH if given the chance. I saw our first Pug Raisin, jump 3 feet onto a table, tear open and devour the contents of a raffle gift basket including a TIN of Almond Roca in less time than it took me to slide on a pair of flip-flops. Mission projects made of sugar cubes, holiday gingerbread houses, -Gone in less than 60 seconds. Nothing excites or motivates a Pug more than food.
Most dogs are not this obsessed but it's still very difficult to resist the longing gaze of a food-loving dog. I will admit, when my darling Olive tips her head and pants longingly, I ALWAYS give her a small bite of my yogurt with berries, peanut butter toast, or any other human food that isn't harmful. When I'm cooking, I share a taste or two of any and all acceptable ingredients. However, I weigh my Pugs, and keep them fit, lean and trim. If the harness gets a bit snug or loose, I adjust the portions and "small bites" accordingly. And, if they are battling a health issue or illness, I'm extra diligent about nutrition.
Why the big deal? Dogs and cats are smaller than adult humans. Excess weight on a smaller body has more significant, more immediate consequences than added weight on a bigger body. And when you factor in the short lifespan of the average dog or cat, what you have is a pet whose already brief life will be cut even shorter, and the quality of that life will not be optimal as the animal develops the inevitable diseases that come with obesity. Believe it or not, dogs that are even A FEW pounds over their ideal weight are prone to more arthritis, hip, vertebrae and mobility issues, cancers, and diabetes. Diabetes can lead to blindness and any issue negatively affecting mobility robs a dog of a big chunk of their quality of life.
If health issues alone weren't bad enough, there's also the expensive vet bills. According to Embrace, a pet insurance carrier, the average cost of vet care for a diabetic dog or cat was over $900. Insurance claims for pets with diabetes increased over 250 percent. That's in just one year.
Embrace, confirms orthopedic conditions are occurring in younger pets – and with greater severity – because so many animals are overweight. Often times an overweight pet is no longer mobile and if they can’t get around, an otherwise alert and healthy pet must be put to sleep because their quality of life becomes so low.
And it's certainly not just one pet insurance company that’s concerned. "Seeing animals suffering from health conditions secondary to their obesity is a common situation," according to Crystal Sheran, DVM for Banfield.
It seems it's not just American humans facing an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and a host of other health issues related to poor diets. Our dogs and cats have followed suit.
So if your pet is overweight, hopefully you are now convinced it's a big deal and you are willing to "deal with your pet's weight -before it's too late!" Here are a few common sense tips to help you get started: