Obesity in pets is a growing problem, and the repercussions are serious leading to increased veterinary costs and decreased quality of life. In our 2 part blog we will look at causes, consequences and how to prevent obesity.
Let’s look at some startling stats
One in three veterinary patients is considered overweight.
Obesity is the most common preventable disease in dogs in North America.
58% of cats and 53% of dogs in the U.S. are overweight
So why does pet obesity exist?
1. Expression of Love -We often show our love to our pets by giving them food and many a time the food which is meant for human consumption isn’t the right food for pet. Mainly because its higher in calories when compared to the pet food.
2. Spaying & Neutering – Research has shown that animals who are spayed and neutered have low caloric needs due to slower metabolic rates so ideally they need less food to maintain a healthy weight. But most of the time the pet parents are unaware of this lowered need to food and continue to feed them as usual, this is one of the causes of obesity.
3. Lack of Physical Activity – As more and more pet parents get busy with their lives they think that a run once a week is good enough to keep their pets healthy. For most dogs that is just not good enough. They need participation and interaction. Each dog has his own physical regimen some of them love to fetch while some love to swim and other do great with physical jobs. However for many dogs all they need is a simple daily walk to stay close to their ideal weight. And by the way active lifestyle is important for cats too. It is advisable to use toys that require cats to chase and jump and expend some energy.
4. What is Normal – Over time our idea of what is normal weight has changed. Even in humans we are now used to weighing more and expanded waistlines. And that’s where the problem lies. This new “normal” is neither normal nor healthy.
5. General Lack of Awareness – The pet obesity problem is further confounded by total lack of knowledge and awareness amongst pet parents. Many of them simply don’t know that their pets are overweight. In a recent survey, over 90% of pet parents incorrectly identified their pets falling within the normal weight range when clearly that wasn’t the case.
6. You Don’t See It – The process of weight gain is always gradual in people and same holds true for pet and because of this reason it is sometimes difficult to notice when a pet has started to gain weight. In particular cats and small dogs a few pounds can make a huge difference.
In part 2 of the blog series we will look at the consequences and ways to prevent obesity in pets. Stay tuned.