Take one look at the TV or newspaper and you will certainly be bombarded with ads for gyms and weight loss products. It doesn't take a genius to conclude the #1 resolution each and every new year is to LOSE WEIGHT and get in shape. Believe it or not, just as obesity in humans is getting worse with each passing year, the number of overweight and obese pets is also rising each and every year. And while losing weight and getting in shape is often difficult, trimming down your dog is quite simple in comparison. Think about it, you dog relies on you for their food. They do not have the free-will you have when it comes to picking up that pint of Haagen Dazs and downing it while watching RHOBH.
Why the big deal you might ask. Just as I used to think fat pugs were cuter pugs and closer to the breed standard, in reality getting extra weight off your dog may be the single easiest, cheapest and best thing you can do to give them a long happy, healthy, life. I noticed this recently while caring for a beloved pug while his owner was on an extended trip. The pug was beautiful. A former show dog with a massive head, barreled chest and thick rolls of fur. This pug was only 6 years old and acted more like 10. He needed to lose a few pounds as he had no waistline and couldn't get down the block without breathing difficulties and dragging his hind paws. He was depressed, lethargic and struggling. Thankfully his owner has him on premium food and I simply scaled back his portions and took him out for frequent, short walks. Within a week and a half I could see a visible waistline when I looked down at him. This sweetie began running to catch toys and could get around the block without with a spring in his step and no difficulty. His breathing was quiet and he was a much happier, healthier dog. And it just got better. I am convinced you need to save your overweight pets before it's too late. You will be happy you did. Let's look at the facts:
Nationwide Insurance, the first and largest insurance company to insure pets, has some alarming statistics. Not only has pet obesity escalated for five years in a row, more than $54 million in insurance claims for pet conditions and diseases related to pet obesity are made annually.What's more, the trend has swung upward by 10 percent over the past two years. Nationwide's vice president and chief veterinary medical officer, Dr. Carol McConnell, notes that there's no time like the present:
"The New Year presents a perfect opportunity to create regular exercise routines for our pets and begin to effectively manage their eating habits to avoid obesity. Regular wellness visits to your veterinarian are the most effective way to monitor your pet's weight, along with being aware of signs of weight gain."
Too much body fat isn't good for humans, and it's not good for animals, either. Not only does it drive up the risk of dying from a preventable disease, it shortens the already too short lifespan of your overweight pets.
Pet insurance statistics show the most common disease related to overweight dogs is arthritis, specifically osteoarthritis. Treatment fees averaged $292 per dog, totaling 42,000 pet insurance claims in one year for this problem alone. Other common problems dogs develop when they're overweight are:
Bladder/urinary tract disease
Torn knee ligaments
Diseased spinal disc
Fatty growths - Tumors
Chronic kidney disease
Dr. McConnell added:
"Excessive weight gain can create detrimental health problems in our pets. Pet owners need to be aware of the quality and amount of food or treats they give their furry family members."
So How Can You Tell If Your Pet Is Overweight: Check with your vet on an ideal weight for your pet but for a basic idea, look at your pet from above and if you don't notice any waistline or the middle of your dog's torso between their ribs and hips is wider than their hips or ribs, that would be considered obese. Looking from the side, dogs should have a slight lift in the abdomen and not a droopy, sagging "gut" without definition. Again, your vet can give you a healthy number on the scale for your dog's breed and build.
If your pet needs to trim down YOU MUST BE STRONG and RESIST the temptation to over-feed and indulge them with food and treats. Follow these tips diligently and your dog should trim right down relatively quickly:
1. Measure your dog's food. Cut back to the amount for the "desired" weight of your pet as advised on the label. No free-feeding. Do not leave food dishes out all day if you have multiple pets.
2. Cut out all treats. If you must, pull kibble or bits from the measured food ration and use that.
3. Cut back on the evening feeding so the morning portion is larger. They will have the day to burn off calories and energy.
4. Take up some additional walks, playtime, and exercise.
5. Make sure you read the labels on your pet foods and ensure the first 2-3 ingredients are human-grade, animal or fish proteins and not carbs. Check my DOG POUNDS or other blog posts for additional food/diet/exercise suggestions but these are the most pivotal and will work.
I have numerous past blog posts on issues that can help you transform overweight pets such as how to accurately read pet food labels, excellent foods and treats for pets and great new products and tips. I hope it will be a good resource. Do your pet a favor and trim them down, get them in shape and give them the gift of a longer healthier life with you. Happy New Year! 💕🐾