Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Pudgy Pets

The new year has arrived and with it new year's resolutions. If you have committed to eating better and exercising more in 2011 don't forget to include your pets too. Overweight dogs and cats are at risk for diabetes, heart and joint disease – all conditions we see frequently at Friendship. I know from my own life that it isn’t always easy to keep pets from piling on the pounds: My dog Sparkle (pictured right) loves food more than anything and keeping her at a healthy weight is a challenge but essential.

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimates that 42% of dogs and 53% of cats in America are overweight. What’s worse is that an additional 10% of dogs and 19% of cats are considered obese. This means that over 50% of dogs and nearly 75% of cats are at increased risk for diseases that may be preventable. And if that’s not enough to get you motivated, consider this: one study found that dogs kept at a healthy weight live on average two years longer than their overweight counterparts!

The best strategy for keeping your pet slim is to prevent weight gain in the first place. Never free feed. Instead, always measure out the amount of food you offer your pet. Also try to limit the treats you give to 10% of your pet’s diet. Feeding table scraps is strongly frowned upon. Give too many table scraps and your dog may end up with diarrhea or pancreatitis which can result in a hospital stay. Your pets already love you unconditionally; giving them treats doesn’t make them love you more.

If your pet is already carrying around a few extra pounds there is plenty we can do. First, bring your pet in to see us, so we can rule out any underlying diseases and discuss a weight loss plan. Now with indoor kitties that spend most of their time lounging about it can be difficult to get their weight down but it is possible. There are prescription diets to try and we’ve got great suggestions for giving your pet more exercise. The weather lately hasn't been conducive to long walks with your dog but try to get out as frequently as possible. I know helping your dog or cat lose weight can be a daunting task, but the extra years you could have with your pet are definitely worth it.

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