Pet obesity, when fat and happy isnt

It started with a little treat between meals. Then a couple more treats between meals. And pretty soon those little treats began to add up, and that little spare tire around the middle became more like a fifth wheel. You can stop pinching yourself. I’m not talking about your spare tire. I’m talking about your pet’s spare tire.

And poor Max and Bailey aren’t alone. Recent research studies found about 25% of our furry friends are obese or overweight.

Why is your pet’s weight a problem? Why can’t Max just be fat and happy? Because obesity decreases your beloved pet’s lifespan, and may lead to diabetes, arthritis, heart complications, endocrinal diseases and bad joints. Somehow “fat and happy” is beginning to sound a little less jolly now, isn’t it?

How do household pets become overweight in the first place? You might want to step in front of a mirror and take a good look, because the culprit often times is you, the loving, doting pet owner who shows love to their dog or cat by giving them high-calorie treats and table scraps. We’re all guilty of over-indulging our pets at some time in their lives. It’s hard not to. One look at their cute little faces begging at the table and us humans melt.

But, now, it’s time for a little discipline – for us and for them. They will stop their begging at the table if we don’t give in to them in the first place. You see, they continue their sad-sack, “if you loved me, you would give me some of that pork chop” look because it works. It’s time for it to stop working.

Table scraps, of course, isn’t the only reason for your pet being overweight. Some people have a tendency to overfeed them with their own pet food, or leave food out for them at all times so they don’t go hungry. It’s always a good idea to take a look at the recommended amounts on the cat or dog food bags to see what the suggested amounts are, or follow your vet’s recommendations. Then, stick to those amounts, no matter what pathetic little faces they make.

There are plenty of diet pet foods to choose from, available online or at the local pet store. Be sure to ask your vet if your pet requires diet food, and make the changeover from the regular food to the diet food gradually. Put a little of the diet food in with the regular food at first, then gradually increase the amount until the diet food is the only food your pet is eating.

Another reason for pet obesity is lack of exercise. For a dog the solution is to take the dog for more walks during the week. If you can’t walk the dog yourself due to your work schedule, do your dog a favor and hire a dog walker to walk your dog on a regular basis. Not only will this benefit your dog’s weight, but will also give him/her numerous other health benefits, as well as just contribute to your dog’s overall happiness. Many dog walkers will walk your dog for $10 to $15 a visit. That may seem like a lot to pay (especially for several walks a week), but if it adds quality time to your dog’s life, it’s worth it.

As for indoor cats, you’re going to have to get your cat to play more. And that may require some time and energy on your part. Provide your cat with plenty of toys for individual play, as well as balls and wands for you and your cat to play with together.

How can you tell if your cat or dog is overweight? Take a look at the rib cage of your pet. The ribs should not be visible to the eye, but should be easily felt without pressing. If you have any doubts, consult with your vet, who will recommend food portions or special foods, as well as give exercise suggestions.

Your pet doesn’t have to suffer from health problems relating to obesity. With feeding discipline and added exercise, you can help ensure that your pet will truly live “a dog’s life” – even if she is a cat.