Obesity is of epidemic proportions for both people and pets. Obesity is a key factor in most health problems seen by veterinarians today. Besides causing tremendous stress on the hips, carrying excess weight burdens the heart and other organs.
Amazingly, even physically fit people have overweight pets.
They say, “My dog (or cat) is not overweight, he just has a lot of hair.” And when they see him struggling to stand or climb stairs, they blame bad hips. Some use food to ease their conscience, leaving excess food and treats when they leave the house.
Dogs and cats, like people, have very differing metabolisms. The active ones burn up lots of calories and stay pretty lean. A more relaxed and mellow pet will have a slower metabolism and need less food. Therefore, feeding suggestions found on bags of food should be used only as guidelines.
To determine the condition of your pet, do the hands-on test. Have the dog stand facing you. Put your thumbs together on the backbone and spread your fingers down over the rib cage. Hopefully, you can find the ridge of the backbone as well as each separate rib and the space between the ribs. If what you feel is soft and spongy, your pet is too fat. (If you are out of breath as you do this test, you, too, might be out of shape.) If there is a major indentation between the ribs, the dog or cat is too thin. The pet should have a waistline a gentle curve inward behind the flare of the rib cage.
If your pet fails the hands-on test, he needs to be put on a diet which means less food and more exercise. Look at the total amount you are feeding each day, including all treats and extra tidbits. (You have to be honest here.) Immediately eliminate all treats and people foods that are not healthy. Two or three small biscuits daily are plenty. Choose plain biscuits that are free of artificial color, flavor and preservatives. Green beans and plain popcorn make great treats. Rememberthe goal is to reduce the amount of food intake.
Twice-a-day feeding is best for weight control and good health. Measure out what you are feeding now and cut back slowly. Cutting back slowly prevents the pet from having that starved-to-death feeling leading to constant begging. It also slowly reduces the size of the stomach. Leave the food in place for 20 minutes and then take the dish away. Offer no more food until the next meal. He will learn to eat all he wants in that 20-minute period.
Along with less food, an increased exercise program is essential and can be beneficial for the entire family. Putting the dog out in the back yard is not providing exercise. Going for walks, throwing the tennis ball and playing tug of war are great forms of exercise. Taking the dog to the dog park allows him to run free with other dogs. That is the best. Cats, too, can benefit from chasing a feather or ball.
Obesity is dangerous. Walking and chasing balls are terrific, healthy owner/pet activities.
For pets and people, slim is healthy.