Latest News 2017 February Is My Four-Legged Friend Too Fat?

Is My Four-Legged Friend Too Fat?

As animal owners, we love to spoil our four-legged friends. Treats, food, toys, and whatever else we believe makes them happy is easy for us to provide. However, sometimes we provide a little too much love. There are some unexpected but harsh consequences to being reckless with how we care for our pets.

Today's blog deals with a widespread problem among pets and pet owners: animal obesity.

Current studies estimate that around 50% of pets in North America are obese—only 41% of cats are at a normal weight, and only 46% of dogs are at a normal weight. The animals at the highest risk are neutered animals that spend their lives indoors, as they tend to eat far more food than they need.

Obese animals can suffer from a host of problems associated with excess fat:

  • Liver Disease
  • Heart Disease
  • Joint Problems
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Lower Heat Tolerance
  • Cancerous Growths

Like human beings, excess fat can affect life expectancy—obesity is shown to cut a dog's life expectancy by up to 2 years. That's a 14% of their total lifespan, or about a decade of a human's lifespan. The problem is bad enough that British authorities have considered it a form of animal cruelty to feed an animal to obesity. In one case, an owner's dogs were taken from him over it.

In America, the legal troubles facing pet owners are minimal (for now). But that doesn't answer the ethical question: are we okay allowing our animals to live shorter, unhealthier lives because we don't know how to control ourselves? Psychologists have discovered a strong tie between human obesity and pet obesity, suggesting that the emotional and mental triggers that cause humans to overeat cause them to overfeed those in their care.

How Do I Know If My Dog Is Overweight?

The first and simplest cue is visual: does your animal look rounder than they used to? Rotund animals might be cute, but there's a high cost to cuteness. The Veterinary Centers of America also has a more precise standard: 10% to 20% above ideal weight is considered overweight, while 21% or more above ideal weight is obese.

For a list of ideal weights according to dog breeds, visit the Pet Obesity Prevention site.

For a tactile cue, put your fingertips between your dog's shoulder blades. A dog at a healthy weight will have ribs that are evident to the touch and will feel like knuckles.

Beginning a Weight Loss Journey

There are a number of resources out there for pet weight loss, and our own blog is putting together a weight loss guide for you. For now, you'll want to find formulated dog food that is designed for weight loss. Weight loss dog food is designed to give your pet nutritious and low-calorie food, helping them slim down without becoming malnourished.

Note: attempting to cut down your dog's intake without information could do far more harm than good. Please use food that is specifically designed for animal weight loss.

After you begin your journey, be consistent! You'll need discipline to resist giving your dog treats, especially if you're not used to saying no. This journey will be as much about you as it is about your lovable four-legged friend. Weigh your dog every two weeks and keep a log of their progress.

We know that this isn't the easiest problem to confront—it strikes at the core of who we are and our most fundamental habits. Just remember who you're doing this for, and remember how healthy and happy your animal friend will be in the long run!

Categories: Diet & Nutrition