Obesity in Pets: Chewing the Facts on Fat, Prevention, Weight Loss

by Mary Haight on June 30, 2014

obesity in petsObesity in pets eerily mirrors what’s happening with people across the U.S. — a reflection that isn’t flattering. Fat dogs and chubby cats have fallen victim to one of our most unshakable, revered cultural pastimes,  food. You’ve probably thought about this: Whether someone is sick, has died, got fired, got promoted, is having a birthday or a graduation — food is offered, sent, or served. Obesity in pets is no surprise then, as we pass along to our furry family members these food habits many of us have come to see as normal.

How Much is Too Much? When to Say When

The more you bond with your pets, the easier it can be for you to treat them as you treat yourself. Case in point, if you get an ice cream cone does your dog get his licks in? Well, of course he does! You don’t want him to be confused that you didn’t share. And then he gets his treat for:

  • going out
  • for remembering commands when reinforcing training on walks
  • for sitting quietly while you groom him
  • a bully stick or other chew to keep him busy and out of trouble while you get some work done.

Wait a minute, that’s a lot of extras when you look at it that way. All those calories add up fast! More than 50% of pets are overweight, and from all reports, the trend is not our friend.

So besides failure to edit treats, what other factors are at work here?

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Long used as a soothing balm to heal hurts or as a reward for something done well, food has been equated with love. The result of this “love” fest has proven disastrous to pet’s health. You want a long life for your dog? Make certain he’s fit and trim and he’ll outlive his portly counterparts. (While we are not covering pet food specifically, be aware of the sugars and fats in many kibbles that are working against your success.) Oh, and wait…you need to know how many diseases stem from obesity, how to conduct weight loss safely, how to recognize when you’re being successful, and how to prevent the need for weight loss in the future. Yes, that and more is in the podcast.

I wanted to mention that Dr. Steele relates her experience of people who come in and have no idea their rotund little darling is actually overweight. This confirms for me that visiting your Vet at least once a year can prevent disease from talking hold. You know we often don’t notice when *we* have gained weight until some clothing item doesn’t fit. It’s not a stretch to understand that because we see our pets every day it is possible we really don’t notice a couple of pounds. It happened to me, too! Those few pounds can contribute to physical injuries, and for my senior it made it a little more difficult to maneuver down the stairs with his one good eye!

Listen in to this chat with Dr. Apryl Steele, SpokesVet for Partner’s for Healthy Pets Initiative — she has news on obesity in pets, how fat works in a dog’s body, the problems it causes (some updates here), and tools and tips for getting your dog back in shape without sacrificing nutrition. Be sure to check out Healthy Pet Checkup, and if you need to contact Dr. Steele, go to Tender Touch Animal Hospital. Enjoy!

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