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!

14 comments
PomPom1
PomPom1

Wow! What a mind blowing number.  50% are overweight?


I think mostly dogs will never give up extra food and owners tend to like to spoil their dogs. We should use this startling number as a reminder for us to better our dogs and ourselves by exercising with them more regularly (like everyday!)


www.everythingpom.com

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@PomPom1 Sorry your comment got stuck! I had a notice you commented but I could not see it in the system and it did not show up til now.

What you say is true, we love to spoil our dogs and unfortunately it's more often with food than with extra playtime, walks, or learning a new skill like agility. More than 50% IS a shocking number and if we remember that every time we go for the treat bag and start cutting all the extras in half and then half again, that could help. Thanks for sharing PomPom1!

Jen Jelly
Jen Jelly

I knew some dogs were overweight - I had no idea it was 50%. It is so easy to start equating food with love when it comes to dogs, I've never known a dog who doesn't appreciate getting in some extra food.

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@Jen Jelly It *is* easy to overuse treats and extras, isn't it? I've started thinking in terms of calories now so I plan out his treats for the day, as I would my own! Thanks for stopping by, Jen and joining the conversation =)

nabiawada
nabiawada

I've found that if I cook whole foods for my Shiba his weight stays in check and I also realized that he gets way too many treats especially when my loved ones visit. I also have him taking vitamins that not only lubricate his joints but also keep his metabolism in check.



MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@nabiawada  Thanks for stopping by -- if you want to put a link in it must be to a post on this topic, so feel free to come back and edit your comment or add another to do that. Thanks!

Christie
Christie

I've been saying the same exact thing!  We have to be the only country where obesity is actually a problem in pets.  In other less fortunate countries, animals are starving!  "Everything in moderation." :)


http://puppyloveny.blogspot.com/

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@Christie England has some trouble too with portly pups, but we all want our dogs with us and healthy as long as possible, I think the idea of having them around for as much as 2.5 years longer if they are thinner is a great motivator! Thanks for the visit!

Angela Mclean
Angela Mclean

Thanks so much for posting about this subject of obesity. I think you are right, we certainly do like to spoil our pets. Also, I think it can be a lack of exercise as well. Personally, I'm guilty of not exercising myself, and I know I don't take my dogs out as much as they need to stretch their legs and burn calories. It is such an important thing to make sure our dogs are staying healthy. I really appreciate your article. 

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@Angela Mclean Thanks for chiming in here, Angela! I appreciate your thoughts. It really is great to carve out more planned quality time with your dogs...they are gone all too quickly and it's such a joy to watch them have a good time whether it's out with you or playing in the yard. It may not be an activity that burns a lots of calories, but it is sure one that everyone enjoys. Use bit of their kibble or a carrot or a piece of apple as a treat and that will help. Thanks for stopping by =)

catherine hislop
catherine hislop

make food for your dog... pasta, rice etc ... then they will not get fat... as dog food has loads of chemicals in it

MaryEHaight
MaryEHaight moderator

@Sheltie Times Yes, awareness without denial, LOL! It is so weird how some people can't see that their dog has gained too much weight. It was funny to hear Dr Steele's experience with that! Thanks for popping in =)

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