Pet obesity has become a widespread epidemic for many American pets. According to the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention, 44% of dogs and 57% of cats in the US are overweight or obese. Between 2007 and 2008 the number of overweight pets increased by approximately 1-4%.
Health Risks Associated with Obesity
Extra weight can cause profound health problems for your pet. It’s important for pet owners to realize that a dog or cat carrying a few extra pounds is equivalent to a human being 30-50 pounds overweight. According to the second annual National Pet Obesity Day Study, pet owners are increasingly aware of this issue. 71.5% of cat owners and 60% of dog owners with overweight or obese pets identified their dog or cat as having an unhealthy weight.
Pets who are overweight or obese are at risk for osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes, respiratory disorders, high blood pressure, heart disease and some forms of cancer. More and more pets are developing these disorders as a direct result of obesity. Older pets are especially prone to weight problems. It is estimated that 52.1% of dogs and 55% of cats over 7 years of age are overweight or obese. These conditions are usually preventable, but once they develop, can be chronic and incurable.
Extra weight also damages your pet’s tendons, muscles and ligaments, which can lead to arthritis. It is estimated that 25% of overweight dogs develop serious joint issues. If your pet already suffers from a joint disorder, extra weight only increases the problem. In addition, obesity decreases immune function and makes pets more susceptible to viruses and diseases. Digestive disorders can also develop, causing intestinal gas and flatulence.
“Helping your pet maintain a healthy weight is crucial to their quality and length of life,” says Dr. Edward Moser, a board certified veterinary nutritionist. “In fact, studies show that limiting your dog’s caloric intake could extend his life.”
Proper nutrition and consistent exercise can work wonders in keeping your pet healthy and happy.
Selecting Healthy Food
Proper nutrition is also an important factor in helping your pet slim down. “Since fat has twice as many calories as protein or carbs, it’s important to feed your pet a low-fat, reduced calorie food,” says Dr. Moser. It’s also important to look for foods that are high in fiber. Fiber helps your pet feel satisfied for longer periods of time and prevents overeating. Grain-free diets that contain lean meat are also a good option.
Wellness® Natural Food for Pets offers several formulas that are ideal for helping your pet lose or maintain a healthy weight.
Wellness Super5Mix® Healthy Weight Formula for Dogs contains nutrient-dense, whole foods that nourish your pet’s body while offering fewer calories and less fat. The formula also contains a high level of fiber, which helps your pet feel satisfied between meals.
Wellness CORE® Reduced Fat Formula for Dogs is a grain-free diet that offers 35% less carbs than traditional reduced fat diets. The formula is ideal for dogs who are less active or need to lose weight. Fat content is limited by utilizing various lean, meat protein sources, such as de-boned turkey, whitefish meal and chicken liver.
Wellness Healthy Weight Feline Formula: This food is specifically designed to meet the nutritional needs of less active cats by providing adequate nutrients with fewer calories. The formula contains 11% fewer calories and 44% less fat than regular adult diets. It also has an increased level of fiber from oat fiber and tomato pumace. This enables your cat feel full longer and will help prevent overeating.
As a pet parent, your dog or cat is a treasured member of your family. You want them to be a part of your life for as long as possible. That’s why it is vital to help your pet maintain a healthy weight. Obesity will only decrease both the quantity and quality of your dog or cat’s life. However, regular exercise and proper nutrition can eliminate the threat and dangers of obesity for your furry friend. It’s up to you to make sure your pet maintains a healthy weight and a happy life.
Routine exercise can be a fun, enjoyable experience for both you and your pet. The health benefits are well worth the effort. You can play fetch or tag with your dog at a local park, take your dog for a walk around the neighborhood or create an obstacle course in your backyard. You can help your feline friends get some much-needed exercise by encouraging them to play or chase their favorite toys.
When developing an exercise program, be sure to consider your pet’s age and health status. If your dog is elderly, has health problems or is not use to exercise, start small and build up. Be careful not to over-exercise your pet in warm weather. Since fat acts as an insulator, overweight dogs are especially susceptible to over-heating.