Pet obesity, like obesity in their owners, is a growing health concern. In fact, pet obesity affected 60% of cats and 56% of dogs, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP).
As our pets’ girth continues to expand so do the concerns of veterinarians for the maintenance of our pets’ health. For that reason, today we focus on making sure you know how your pet can stay trim, healthy and live a long loving life.
Why Pet Obesity Matters
As our pets increase their weight, it should come to no surprise that our pets’ health risks are very much like our own as those pounds creep up and up.
Our pets’ health risks are very much like our own as those pounds creep up and up. #NationalPetObesityAwarenessDay
Decreased Life Expectancy
Not only does pet obesity affect life expectancy it also affects your dog’s quality of life. Study after study shows that when it comes to feeding your pet, less is more leading to a longer life. For instance, Labradors who were trim lived on average 2 years longer than their slightly overweight siblings (15% overweight). An added benefit to being trim was the delayed onset of chronic illnesses. When they were placed on a successful weight loss plan their quality of life improved with increased vitality as their pain and discomfort decreased. They also required less medication.
Joint Problems and Arthritis
Joint problems leading to arthritis is a common problem, especially in larger dog breeds. Yet research shows leaner dogs tend to have a more delayed onset of osteoarthritis compared to their overweight counterparts. While not completely understood, most likely the added weight and fat tissue increase the force on the joints resulting in inflammation. While there is no cure for arthritis; we can minimize the pain with a weight loss of just a few pounds.
Most likely you are already aware of the risk of developing type 2 diabetes when people are overweight. But did you know that it can affect dogs, cats and other animals (including apes, pigs, and horses)?
Chubby cats like their human counterparts are placed at tremendous risk for developing high blood sugar and diabetes requiring twice daily insulin injections. However, our pooches are more prone to a condition known as insulin resistance, a state in which they have dangerously high insulin and blood sugar levels. Pet obesity contributes to insulin resistance and is a risk factor for pancreatitis, which can lead to diabetes.
Both diabetes and insulin resistance have been shown to reduce a pet’s life expectancy in addition to requiring constant medication and treatment. Check with your veterinarian for the best type of diet for your diabetic dog. Usually, this will include some good-quality protein, as well as fiber and complex carbohydrates that will help to slow absorption of glucose. Your vet may also recommend a diet with relatively low-fat content.
High Blood Pressure
Just like us, as your dog’s weight increases especially due to higher fat diets, it is possible so will his blood pressure rate. Hypertension or high blood pressure is also known as the “silent killer” because just as in humans, you can’t tell if your pet has it nor can you see the damage it’s causing – until it’s too late. Indications of hypertension include blindness, bleeding inside the globe of the eye, persistently dilated pupils, and kidney failure. Hypertension is diagnosed by measuring blood pressure using a similar technique used on humans. And as with humans, treatment can include therapeutic nutrition such as a low-sodium diet, weight loss, increasing exercise, and medications in more serious cases.
While rolly polly pups may seem cute and cuddly the sad fact is that overweight dogs are at higher risk for cancer. The Journal of Obesity points out that the number of cancer cases caused by being obese is estimated to be 20% with the increased risk of malignancies being influenced by diet, weight change, and body fat distribution together with physical activity.
There are fewer research studies that provide conclusive data on the prevalence of cancer in obese dogs and cats. One of note found pet obesity could potentially be linked to a few different cancer types in dogs– urinary cancer and mammary cancer.
The bottom line here is why take that risk? By reducing your pet’s weight you increase the likelihood of a healthier, happier, pet.
How to Know if You’ve Been Killing Them Softly with Kindness
As you can see by tossing Fido a couple more biscuits or letting your lovely Fifi finish off all the table scraps, you could be killing your dog with kindness. To tell if your pet has put on too many pounds you can do a quick comparison by downloading this pdf body condition score chart.
You can also view the ideal weight ranges for dogs and cats. The chart located in the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention includes ranges of common dog and cat breeds as well as recommended weight ranges of the top 100 AKC breeds.
Other Clues Your Pet Has a Weigh Problem
You can also tell your pet’s weight condition by inspecting her ribs, vertebrae and other bones.
- Underweight: You’re able to see your dog’s ribs, vertebrae, pelvic bones and/or other bones from a distance. You don’t see much muscle or fat.
- Just right: You can feel the ribs, but there is some fat covering them. You’re able to see your dog’s waist from above. And, their abdomen is tucked up when you view your dog from the side.
- Overweight: There are different stages, but if your dog is significantly overweight, there will be too much fat covering the ribs to feel them. There will be a lot of fat near the base of their tail. You won’t be able to see your dog’s waist from above. And, their abdomen won’t be tucked when you view your dog from the side.
Should I Put my Pup on A Diet and Exercise Plan?
Rather than guess how much you should be feeding your pets, you must be specific when it comes to calorie counting. Further, your pet’s level of activity also plays an important role.
Check with Your Vet First!
But before you place your dog on a diet or exercise plan, check with your Vet first. Your Vet will be able to determine if your pet’s overweight condition is a result of being a chowhound or if there is an underlying disease. Too many dogs start on a diet and fail to lose weight simply because the diet wasn’t the problem – a disease was.
Incorporate Your Pet’s Fitness Plan While on Vacation
In an earlier blog post, I shared how you shouldn’t let fitness take a hike while traveling. Well, the same holds true for your dog too!
While you’re staying in pet-friendly Sea Ranch Abalone Bay you and your dog can vacation while you work on shedding some of those pounds. Just follow these handy tips based on the APOP weight reduction plan:
Take a Brisk Walk
- Start with a brisk walk along the oceanfront trail focusing on the “out” leg of your walk and then you smell the sea breezes and count the whales on the “back” leg.
- Your pace should be about a 12-15 minute per mile brisk walk, to the point of feeling a light sweat. While you may need to first warm up, remember dogs are built to go from 0-100 miles per hour with a very little risk of injury.
- Remember while walking your dog you must keep him on a leash no longer than 6 feet. While exercising, draw your leash close – generally within two to four feet of your body.
Move the Bowl
- Move the dog bowl away from your pet’s favorite hangout spot. Make him walk or climb the stairs to be fed. Of course, you can always move that bowl to Sea Ranch Abalone Bay.
- Just be sure it’s not outside where other animals will want to join him for lunch.
Hangout at the Dog Park
- Engage your dog in a game of chase or fetch using toys, balls, laser pointers, squeaky toys, anything that your dog finds interesting to chase for at least ten to fifteen minutes twice a day.
- Take your fur-baby to the Sea Ranch dog park to run leash free. To get to the park from Highway One, turn east on Deer Trail (Mile Marker 56.88) and drive a short distance to the first rock driveway on the right and park within the fenced-in area. Take the walking path east to the dog park
Keep Regular Weigh-ins
- Just like Weight-watchers keep a running record of your chubby chowhound’s weight.
- So you don’t miss a weigh-in for your pet (or yourself) you’ll find a scale located in the master bathroom cabinet.
Make Weight Loss Your Next Goal While Staying at Sea Ranch Abalone Bay
When you take your next vacation bring along your four-legged exercise buddy. Don’t forget to pack your walking shoes and your pet’s leash. You’ll both be glad you did.
Check out our booking calendar for your next healthy holiday adventure to Abalone Bay.
Diabetes in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, & Treatment
Association For Pet Obesity Prevention: https://petobesityprevention.org
Effects of diet restriction on life span and age-related changes in dogs.
Systemic Hypertension in Dogs