What percentage of cats and dogs are overweight or obese?
How does obesity influence my pet’s health?
- Just like in people obesity greatly influences health and shortens overall lifespan
- Early onset arthritis and joint disorders
- Risk for endocrine disease like Diabetes
- Chronic Inflammation
- Decreased anesthetic safety
- Skin Disorders
- Respiratory disorders
- 2005 Study in JAVMA comparing Labradors with one group fed normal calories versus a group fed 25% less calories and kept at a lean body weight. The lean body weight dogs lived an average for 13 years compared to 11 years in the control.
What does an ideal body weight look like?
- When viewed from above your pet should have a defined waistline where the chest meets the abdomen creating an hour-glass shape
- From the side you pet’s abdomen should be tucked up tight behind the rib cage like a deep “s” curve
- When petting along the ribcage with light pressure the spaces between ribs should be felt.
- Mentally picture a greyhound or whippet for the most dramatic example of these changes.
How can I make the right decision on diet?
- Check the AAFCO Statement on the back of your pet’s food to know what is nutritionally formulated for. Watch out for “all life stages” or “growth and maintenance” foods as these can provide nutrition to growing puppies or kittens, but for most adult animals will cause rapid weight gain. Adult dogs should be on food formulated for “adult maintenance”
- Feed an amount of food for your pet’s ideal weight not their current weight! Ask your veterinarian if you are unsure what a good ideal weight goal is
- Consider a weight management or weight loss diet which is lower in calories and higher in fiber to meet weight loss goals.
- Grains are good! Grains help a pet feel full, grain free diets can lead to weight gain as pets get hungrier sooner on these foods. Grain allergies are relatively uncommon in food allergy patients- the vast majority are allergic to a protein source. Having grains will help keep an overweight pet from scavenging and seeking out other food.
My dog is always hungry!! How can I cut back on food if they are always begging?
- Change how you feed, most hungry pets tend to eat their food in 30 seconds. Consider a food storage toy where your pet has to roll the toy around and 1-2 pieces of kibble come out at a time. This slows down the ravenous eater, makes a 30 second meal 30 minutes plus your pet is exercising! This also stops eating for boredom as they have to make an effort to get their kibble. You can also use a slow feeder bowl to slow down your pet.
- Divide the daily amount of food into at least 2 meals.
- Use vegetables as treats to provide fiber and super low calories options. Green beans and carrots are wonderful alternative treats.
- When your pet begs for food instead of feeding them- do something! Play a game of fetch, go for a short walk, or just simply pet them. A lot of pets seek us out and learn that food is a major way to interact, providing other interaction still builds that bond without the added calories.