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Curbing Pet Obesity

Curbing Pet Obesity

With obesity becoming a growing issue among dogs and cats, the best strategy to help keep your pet slim is to balance a healthy diet with regular exercise.

Overweight cat

According to a study conducted by The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), approximately 93 million dogs and cats in the U.S. (54% of the total dog and cat population) are overweight or obese.

While there is no recent data for Canadian pets, a report by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) found that overfeeding is the most common mistake pet owners make in feeding their dogs or cats.

The CVMA’s report, based on findings from surveys of Canadian pet owners and veterinarians, also stated that fewer than 2 in 10 pet owners feed their pets the amount recommended on the pet food package. Moreover, it said that pet parents are also overly generous with treats.

According to the report, weight management is one of the most important things pet parents can do to increase the length of their pet’s life.

How can you tell if your pet is overweight?

Generally, you should be able to feel your pet’s ribs, which should ideally have only a slight layer of fat. Also, when looking at your pet in profile view, you should see an upward slope from the rib cage to the back legs. A straight or downward slope are signs that your pet may have a weight problem. A sagging belly is a sure sign of obesity.

The best way to determine for sure if your pet is overweight is to get an assessment from a vet.

Understanding Nutrition

Pet owners are nearly twice as likely to buy pet food based on what their pets like rather than on what’s actually good for them. Additionally, they’re more likely to be swayed by price than by the food’s ability to support their pets’ health or life stage needs, according to the CVMA’s report.

Nearly half of pet owners surveyed said that they feed their pets in a free-choice manner; that is, always having food available in their feeding bowls.

The report suggested that pet parents should give serious consideration to the impact that their food choices make on the length and quality of their pets’ lives. In other words, read food labels carefully and opt for quality food, high in nutrition.

How can you tell if your pet is overweight?

Understanding nutrition

Nutrience Grain Free

Family walking their dog

Goldren retriever swimming

When feeding your pet, divide daily food servings into smaller portions throughout the day and don’t use self-feeders, unless they’re designed to make your pet work for the food. If your pet frequently begs for food, resist the temptation to give in; pet it instead, as it may be seeking attention rather than expressing a need to eat.

When it comes to treats, one solution is to buy healthy, low calorie varieties and feed wisely. For instance, give treats to reward good behaviour rather than to appease begging.

Daily Exercise

According to the CVMA’s report, veterinarians and pet owners agree that exercise is key to fitness and good health. However, the problem is that while pet parents recognize the importance of physical activity, they don’t spend enough time exercising or playing with their pets.

On an average weekday, for instance, pet owners spend three times as much time watching TV and nearly twice as much time surfing the internet as they do playing or exercising with their pets, according to the report.

Generally, dogs should get at least 15 to 20 minutes of physical activity three times daily. Activities, such as regular leashed walks, and games such as hide & seek and fetch, using proper toys, should be part of your canine’s daily exercise. Swimming is also a good activity, particularly for older dogs with joint problems.

Cats need to be roused to play at least twice a day with a repertoire of teaser toys and activity centres that stimulate their senses.

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Dogit Style Nylon Print Dog Leash-Aloha
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Catit Design Senses
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