You’ve heard about Americans’ expanding waistlines. But did you know that over half of pets are overweight or obese, too? The extra pounds hold some of the same dangers for pets as pet lovers: health risks such as arthritis, high blood pressure, kidney disease and cancer.
Checking to see whether your pet is obese is easier than you might think. At a healthy weight:
– you can feel ribs easily
– no sagging stomach
– clearly defined waist when viewed from above.
A broad, flat back or sagging stomach might indicate that your pet regularly eats too much or needs more exercise.
What’s the solution?
Indoor dogs and cats do not need nearly as many calories as you might think. While the average owner should eat about 2,000 calories a day, pets need just a fraction of that. Cats that are around ten pounds should eat 180-200 calories a day. Dogs of the same weight should enjoy 200-275 calories, no more.
The easiest way to regulate your pet’s food is to use a measuring cup at feeding time. Check the side of your dog or cat food to determine how much your pet should be eating in a given day, and stick to it. Giving in to a begging dog or cat only makes the problem worse—for everyone!
Having food constantly available is very convenient for you. But for a pet with weight issues, it can be a serious problem. Consider switching to a regular feeding schedule, at least for a while.
Just as with owners, adding physical activity can also help keep your pet’s weight down. Make it a habit to play every single day. It’ll be good for both of you!
For a nice visual aid to help you evaluate your pet’s weight, see the website of the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention: http://bit.ly/niuIak. There’s also a lot of other useful information there.