Many pet parents don’t realize that their cat or dog is overweight. There are even some of the best pet parents I know that think their cat or dog is cute with their pudginess! Well, overweight dogs and cats may be cute, but even a few extra pounds can have serious health implications including a reduced life expectancy. Click here for tips on keeping your pet healthy.
As in humans, we now recognize obesity as the most important medical disease that affects our fur family members as well. Pet obesity is one of the most important issues facing cats and dogs. Being obese puts your pets at risk for a wide range of diseases and other problems, and significantly impacts their quality of life. Sadly, today, over half of all dogs and cats in the United States are overweight or obese. If your dog gets sick, check out these tips to help you take care of them.
Begging Plays a Role in Pet Obesity
It seems that the beggars either get one of two responses from the human crowd. Some find it adorable and love to give treats because they think it makes their pet feel loved and they want to reward them. Others, like me, have discovered how detrimental treats can be to their pets and don’t cave in even with those cute, sad eyes that stare back at you.
Begging is not always about your pet being hungry. More times than not, it is often about seeking attention. We all know how much our beloved fur friends need attention! Instead of extra treats and table scraps, your pet needs human interaction and a diet that allows them to remain satiated or full.
Is Your Pet at a Healthy Weight?
Your veterinarian may conduct a body conditioning assessment on your pet to determine if they are too thin, optimal, overweight, or too heavy (obese). The scale is 1-9 and consists of looking down at your pet to see if they have a waistline, feeling your pet’s ribs, and looking for fat deposits and obvious abdominal distension (your pet’s belly is dragging on the floor)!
Ask yourself these three simple questions to determine if your pet is overweight:
- Can you easily feel your pet’s ribs?
- Does your pet have a tucked abdomen versus a sagging stomach?
- Look at your pet from above. Does your pet have a waist?
Answering “yes” to the above questions indicates that your pet is at a healthy weight. If you answered “no” then you may need to adjust your pet’s diet.
Are You Overfeeding Your Cat or Dog?
As a general rule of thumb, treats should be limited to no more than 10% of the recommended daily calorie intake. Those seemingly small treats from the table can turn out to be the equivalent of a sizable meal!
For example, a dried pig ear, at 1.8 oz., is the equivalent of a human eating 3 doughnuts! Those delicious bacon strip treats (Beggin’ Strips) in just 3 oz. are the equivalent of four doughnuts for humans. The item that really took me by surprise was the rawhide bone! Weighing in at a hefty 6.7 oz., it has almost 664 calories and is equivalent to a human consuming 10 doughnuts!
I wasn’t even counting rawhides or other snacks as contributors to my pet’s diet (and I am a responsible pet parent!) The truth is it never even occurred to me until someone pointed it out. Now, I scan treat bags to see how many calories are in each serving, and most of the time I am shocked! If you feed your pet treats, then you should try it. It really can be an eye-opener. When I started adding all the treats that I was giving (with no table scraps), it was nearly 200 additional calories per day-Yikes!
My eyes have been opened, much to the chagrin of my Milo and Marlee who are no longer munching on high calorie snacks all day! They may not like it much, but they will appreciate what I am doing for their health and longevity! I want my pets to be around for as long as possible, and be healthy enough to enjoy it.