Understanding the right level of activity your pet needs and what their healthy weight range is, according to experts, is the first hurdle to tackle in dealing with pet obesity. Long-term obesity can lead to a shortened lifespan for your furry companion and many healthy problems down the road.
Do you truly understand how much activity your dog needs to stay healthy?
The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) collects data from pet owners and veterinarians each year to understand the trends related to pet obesity.
In last year's report, 53.9% of dogs and 58.9% of cats were classified as overweight, and APOP Founder, veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward said: "Obesity is a disease that kills millions of pets prematurely, creates immeasurable pain and suffering, and costs pet owners tens of millions of dollars in avoidable medical costs."
Many vets say the biggest hurdle to overcome is to get pet owners to understand that their pet is overweight and then to take their advice on how to properly maintain the pet's weight over time.
Here are 3 Questions to Ask Yourself:
Is Your Pet Overweight?
Think your pet might be overweight? There are a few things you can do but it starts with understanding what is the right weight for your pet.
The AKC has a great guide from Purina on how you can tell if your pet is a healthy weight -- if you can feel their ribs when you press their sides, your pet is a healthy weight.
If you believe your pet may be overweight, getting in touch with your vet is the next step. A vet will likely recommend a food and exercise regime that is aligned wtih the required activity levels for your dog's size, age and breed.
Are You Overfeeding Your Pet?
Do you know how many calories your dog should eat in a given day?
Most dogs only need a fraction of the calories humans need daily, even if they are getting normal levels of exercise. As your pet ages, it is important to make sure you're feeding them the right food AND continuing to keep up a healthy level of exercise.
How much Exercise is Enough?
PetMD also recommends increasing your pet's activity levels and continuing to monitor over their lifetime in order to maintain their new, healthy habits. This is something we are truly passionate about. It can be challenging to make sure that a dog, especially a lazy dog, gets the exercise he or she needs but, as you can see from the APOP research, this can truly extend your pet's life and make sure they have a high quality of life for all of their days.
For additional information and insights, The New York Times has dedicated digital and print sections to focus on the connection between our health and the health of our pets, everything from proper diet to the effect of household chemicals on pets. As we spend more and more time with our pets, it is clear to see that they are exposed to many of the things that we are often fighting ourselves -- and The New York Times' pet sections aim to truly understand what implications this has for the health of our pets and our own.
Don't forget to grab the most recent New York Times magazine to continue to strengthen the bond between you and your best friend.