A portly pet is an adorable pet, right? That’s what most memes and other animal images in the media often imply. However, overweight pets face several health risks, including a shortened lifespan.

As humans battle their own expanding waistlines, overweight and obese pets have followed a similar pattern. Over the past decade, the percentage of overweight pets has risen to more than half of all household cats and dogs (roughly 85 million). Unfortunately, this trend of pet obesity seems to be on the rise, showing no signs of slowing down.

More Than a Few Extra Pounds

Overweight pets face a number of different health concerns, including:

  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Arthritis
  • Orthopedic injuries, like cruciate ligament tears
  • Intervertebral disc disease
  • Heart disease
  • Respiratory problems
  • Kidney disease
  • Conditions affecting the liver
  • Skin and coat conditions due to inability to self-groom

Along with the increased risk of disease, many of these pets suffer needlessly and live a reduced quality of life. In more tragic situations, animals may lose up to 3 years of their life because they’ve acquired a secondary disease that proves to be fatal or they can no longer walk.

Thankfully, pudgy pets are becoming less admired for their cuteness now that we know more about the impact of pet obesity and the importance of proper nutrition and weight management.

Preventing Pet Obesity

Embracing healthy choices is a great way to combat pet obesity, and what better time to think about getting fit than spring?

To keep your pet at a healthy weight, practice the following fitness tips:

  • Follow your pet’s recommended diet and portion sizes. Our veterinarians are also happy to make recommendations to help you improve your four-legged friend’s diet.
  • Avoid indulging him or her in treats. Instead, give verbal praise, interactive games, new toys, or affection.
  • Daily exercise is essential for all animals. Keep your pet moving with at least 20-30 minutes of physical activity or interactive play each day. Bonus: it’s good for pet owners, too!
  • Follow up with your pet’s annual wellness care appointment to assess weight, nutrition, and other important health care needs.
  • Table scraps and other people food contributes to weight gain and puts our furry friends at increased risk for pancreatitis and other conditions.
  • Learn how to spot weight gain in your pet and whether he or she is at a healthy weight.

Although it’s tempting to give in to those big, begging eyes, stick with providing your pet with a highly nutritious diet and consistent exercise. This is the best recipe to give your pet a longer, healthier life.

For more information about weight management or pet nutrition, please contact the team at Dupont Veterinary Clinic.