Pudgy pooch or fat cat? Here’s how to help your pet lose weight and get healthy

By: Health Local Staff Mar 28, 2014
Pudgy pooch or fat cat? Here’s how to help your pet lose weight and get healthy

An estimated 60% of Canadian pets are overweight or obese!

Not only are people suffering from obesity, but it turns out their pets are too. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that overweight people have overweight pets. A study done by the Veterinary Medical Association revealed the shocking statistic that an estimated 60% of Canadian pets are overweight or obese. And just like their owners, it puts Fido at risk of life-threatening diseases such as:

  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Joint Diseases
  • Heart Problems
  • Premature Death

So what’s causing your pet to pack on the pounds? Experts say it’s the same problem faced by humans – too much food combined with not enough physical activity. The unfortunate part is that pets rely on their owners to take care of them. And because people are living much more sedentary lives, their pets are too.

A pet wellness study conducted in 2011 showed that less than 20% of pet owners stuck to the recommended amounts of food for their pet. That means over 80% were getting too much food. And that’s not to mention all the doggy and kitty treats and left over table scraps that do nothing but lead to your pet being fat and unhappy.

It used to be that pets provided a form of entertainment and activity for their owners. But with the invention of the internet, smart phones, tablets, and gaming systems, people are forgoing the daily walk with Buster in favor of spending time playing video games and updating their social media statuses.

So how do you know if your pet is overweight or obese? Veterinarians say a healthy dog should have an hourglass shape when looking down at their backs. The widest point of the body should be at the final rib, which is around the mid-point of the body. The waist should get slimmer and then widen again at the hips.

In addition to the visual test, you can also perform a touch test by feeling the ribs. If you can’t easily feel the ribs with your fingers, then it may be due to your pet being overweight or obese.

So what can you do to help your pet get healthy? The first thing is to have them checked out by your vet to rule out any weight related health issues such as thyroid problems or arthritis. If underlying health issues are ruled out, you will want to work with your veterinarian to establish a weight reduction plan based upon your pet’s needs. That means ensuring proper portion control, eating the right food, avoiding the wrong foods, and getting enough physical activity. Sound familiar? And who knows, you might just end up losing a few pounds along the way too.

The Health Local Staff is a team of writers and experts dedicated to bringing you the latest health, nutrition and lifestyle information at www.healthlocal.ca.