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Obesity in Dogs and Cats

Obesity in dogs and cats is on the rise. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, "An Estimated 54% of dogs and cats in the United States are overweight or obese," (2010). That comes out to about 93 million of our furry friends (Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 2010, para 1).

Some common reasons as to why pets are getting fatter are overeating, neutering or spaying your pet and/or lack of exercise to, name a few (Frisby, 2004). The reason why a dog or cat may gain weight after being neutered or spayed is because their metabolic rate changes after the surgery, making it easier to pack on the pounds (Frisby, 2004).

It is essential that pet parents be aware of their dog or cat's weight to prevent harmful, life span altering affects. Overweight dogs and cats may experience such symptoms as pain in their back or hips, blood pressure issues, heart disease or type-2 diabetes (Stregowski, 2011). Pet parents should check their dogs or cats on a regular basis to make sure their pets are not overweight. One good indicator of a healthy cat or dog compared to an overweight cat or dog is whether or not you can feel their ribs and if their shape looking down on them appears to be curving in towards their ribcage rather than one long stretched out circle (Stregowski, 2011).

Preventing obesity in your cat or dog can be done mostly through portion control with food and treats as well as regular exercise (Stregowski, 2011). If you still see weight gain on your pet, it is important to consult your veterinarian for assistance.

Similar to humans, dog and cats need exercise to improve cardiovascular health and to burn the calories necessary to burn fat.

Sarah's recommendations for dog exercises:

  • Take you dog(s) for walks on a regular basis (3 to 5 times a day).
  • Visit a local dog park or dog beach so your dog(s) can play and socialize with other dogs.
  • Play Frisbee or have your dog fetch a ball in the yard.
  • For jogger's, have your faithful companion join you.
  • Create an obstacle course for your dog to enjoy while improving cognitive skills.

Sarah's recommendations for cat exercise:

  • String game (have your cat chase you around the house while holding a string).
  • Scrunch up a piece of paper into a ball for your cat to chase.
  • Many cats enjoy trying to catch a laser light. Cat laser toys are inexpensive.
  • Pet stores carry many types of feather toys to entice your cat to play.
  • Many cats like catnip. This is a fun and safe enjoyment for cats to increase the pleasure to play.

References

Frisby, DVM, MS, H. (2004). Pet Health Diseases & Conditions Contributing to Obesity in Dogs. Retrieved from http://www.allaboutdogsandcats.com/Health/ObesityInDogsCauses.html

Obesity Facts and Risks. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.petobesityprevention.com/pet-obesity-fact-risks/

Stregowski, RVT, J. (2011). Obesity in Dogs: Canine Weight Management and Obesity Prevention. Retrieved from http://dogs.about.com/od/caninediseases/p/obesity.htm

 

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