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Does your dog or cat have a weight problem? 

Pets struggle with obesity, too.

Overweight dog, dog obesity

January 16, 2020

Does it seem that your golden retriever is moving a little slower around the backyard of your home lately? Does your tabby cat have a bit of trouble jumping up onto the sofa in your living room? Maybe it’s time to take a closer look at your pets. Obesity has reached epidemic proportions among Americans and it’s a big problem for dogs and cats all across the country, too.

According to the CDC – Center for Disease Control – 36.5 percent of adult Americans are obese. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, dogs and cats have an even bigger problem with weight control; the association reports that 55 percent of dogs are overweight or obese. And 53 percent of cats are obese or overweight. There’s no reason to believe that pets in your area are immune from the problem.

As with people, there are two primary contributing factors to weight gain among dogs and cats – too little exercise and too much food, particularly too much of the wrong food. If you recognize the need to do something about your dog or cat’s weight, this is a good time to start. By the time this winter is over, they’ll be ready to run and play outside.

Evaluate your dog or cat’s weight – do they tip the scales?

The first step is to access their condition. A trip to your veterinarian is not a bad idea. Your vet can tell you if your black lab has a weight problem – if your kitty has grown into a chubby cat. Of course, sometimes, it’s obvious.

You may also want to evaluate your pet’s weight yourself. Unfortunately, you can’t line them up on a chart based on height and age the way we do with people; dogs and cats, even of the same breeds, come in different shapes and sizes. Instead, what you can do is take a look at their ribs. Feel their ribs. You should be able to easily feel their ribs. Also, look at their waist line. Is it well defined? If not, maybe you should setup an appointment with your vet for a closer look.

Is your dog or cat eating well?

Table scraps are a traditional cause of dogs tipping the scales beyond their healthy weights. Cats don’t have as traditional a problem with table scraps, but if they do like to eat off the table, they could have the same problem.

Other than table scraps, it’s usually a question of what your pets are eating. Just as there are people foods that are better than others, some dog foods and some cat foods are better than others. A key word in pet food is familiar when considering people food. That word is ‘processed.’

Processing seldom, if ever, adds anything of nutritional value to food. Instead, it generally reduces nutritional value while leaving the less-desirable aspects of a food intact. Additionally, processing often adds sugars, salts, artificial colorings, flavors and preservatives. Not good. Not good for you and not good for your cat or dog.

Try to buy dog and cat food that is low in calories and carbs. And give the treats to your cats and dogs in moderation. It’s also a good idea if their foods contain some moisture, which can help with digestion.

Just as dehydration is often a problem for people who don’t drink enough water, it’s a potential problem for cats and dogs. Moisture in their food helps to ensure that they are properly hydrated.

Exercise will help your dog or cat tip the scales back

Just as we need exercise to stay healthy, cats and dogs need exercise, too. Not only will this help keep them healthy, it will also help to keep their weight healthy. They may like to lay around all day but they really need some activity. It will help to keep their weight under control and could help to keep their joints in better shape, as well.

For dogs, a walk on the leash, or a run in the backyard, is an excellent way to keep them in the pink of good shape. Cats, of course, are less conducive to walks on a leash. They may not appreciate your efforts to get them running around, either. Instead, just give them some attention. They’ll probably appreciate the petting, as will your dog, and it will encourage them to get up and move about.