Obesity in cats and dogs has, unfortunately, become an accepted household occurrence for many pet owners.
Overweight cats and dogs have become as much of an epidemic as it is with humans, and the people who are responsible for this are their owners (harsh but true).
The sixth annual National Pet Obesity Awareness Day Survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) found 53% of dogs and 58.3% of cats are overweight or obese by their veterinarian.
How has it gotten to this point? Well, there are some common misconceptions that many pet owners have:
- He gets bored with the same food
- I feel bad eating something tastier than him… He knows!
- It’s the breed of my dog… they are all stocky (e.g. staffies, bull dogs, jack russells etc.)
- He doesn't eat much
- He only eats once a day
- He only gets a few treats here and there
Here is an easy explanation for all of these:
- Dogs and cats do not know what McDonalds and Dominos are. They only know what you expose them to. The more you expose them to.. the more ‘picky’ they will become. They do not need a massive variety!
- Your dog or cat has no idea what you are eating. Does it smell nice… yes! Will he eat it if you put it on the ground… yes! Put your dog outside with a toy, feed him his own dinner, or in another room whilst you are eating.
- No, it is not the breed of your dog. Everything in your dog's life is harder if it is overweight. Including breathing. People are now used to seeing overweight dogs and cats, and often do not understand what is ‘normal’.
- This one is fairly straight forward.. he is eating too much. it comes down to the amount of energy that goes in vs the amount that comes out.
- It is fine to feed your dog twice a day. The key is to feed a larger meal in the morning and a smaller meal in the evening. Just the same as with humans. Otherwise, if they are fed once a day in the evening, they eat and then go to sleep and don't burn off the energy from the food and it is more likely to turn to fat.
- A few treats here and there is very different to few treats every day. it is very easy to increase this unintentionally. Remember, they are treats for a reason. If you treated yourself to a few Tim Tam's every day, would you lose weight?
Where is your pet sitting on the weight chart?
It is always best to feed a balanced diet, whether it is a commercial food or a home-based diet... It MUST be balanced, otherwise, your pet will get deficiencies and eventually all sorts of health problems.
Obesity can cause:
- Joint problems
- Breathing difficulties
- Easier to overheat on warm/hot days
- Strain on the heart
- Shortened life span
As you can see, obesity can be the cause of a number of medical conditions.
Food such as dairy products, pigs ears, dog rolls, and so much more, are very high in fat and should only ever be fed to your cat or dog on small amounts.
To recap... Feeding a larger meal in the morning and a smaller meal in the evening is ideal. Measure what you feed. Regularly weigh your pet and only feed a healthy treat once or twice a week. Exercise regularly. All of these are the best way to get your pet to lose weight and maintain it.
If you have any questions, we would love to hear from you and help you in any way I can.
I would love to hear any feedback or experiences that you have!