Not to be overly dramatic, but if you knew that something you were doing was killing your dog or cat, would you keep doing it? My guess is, if you’re reading this column, your answer is an emphatic “no.”
Unfortunately, many pet owners are risking their pets’ well-being and longevity by over-feeding and under-exercising them. But don’t take my word for it. Dr. Ray Watson of Goose Creek Animal Hospital tells me pet obesity is the No. 1 problem he sees in his patients on a daily basis.
“Obesity leads to locomotion problems, specifically osteoarthritis,” Watson said. “It also leads to Type I diabetes mellitus. This is a very serious and very complex disease I’d like no pet owner to have to endure.”
The good news is that pet obesity is also the most preventable disease Watson treats. It’s as simple as reducing the number of calories your pet takes in every day. That can be done in one of several ways.
You can simply measure out less food than you normally do each time you feed your pet, or, as Watson prefers, you can switch your cat or dog food.
“The most efficient manner for a pet to lose weight is to switch to a lower calorie diet,” Watson explained. “The dog and cat food market has an abundance of low-calorie diets available.”
If you are going to switch your pet’s food, remember to do it slowly over the course of several days or even weeks. An abrupt change in your pet’s diet can cause serious stomach issues.
It’s also important to remove processed human food from your pet’s diet. I avoid using the term “people food” because those foods human beings should consume in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle and weight are often just fine for pets.
In the case of dogs, substituting frozen green beans or thawed baby carrots for other treats can be a healthy weight-loss tool and can help you avoid feeling guilty when you stop sharing other items on your plate with your pooch. Aside from these types of natural treats, it’s important to regiment the number of calories your pet is consuming, and offering table scraps won’t help in this regard.
Watson said it’s important to monitor your pet’s weight as you try to reduce those excess pounds and strongly recommends regular consultation with your veterinarian and regular, recorded pet weight-ins on the same scale. This provides an accurate assessment of your program and will keep you both on track.
Adding more exercise to your pet’s daily routine is also a great way to improve your pet’s weight and health. It might also do wonders for your own well-being.
It’s not really surprising that weight is a major health issue for our pets because it’s a major health issue for many of their owners. The key difference is that pets can’t choose their own food and a healthy diet. They depend on us to do that for them.
For more information on Goose Creek Animal Clinic, visit www.myvetonline.com/goosecreek.
David Loignon is the owner of Home Buddies Premier In-home Pet Care. You can reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or online at www.myhomebuddies.com/louisvilleeast
About the Author (Author Profile)
After 25 years as a journalist and television production executive I turned
my career 180 degrees and opened a pet care business; Home Buddies
Louisville. I couldn’t abandon journalism altogether though, so now I write
The Pet Buddy, a weekly column to help you improve the lives of your
four-legged family members. When I’m not hanging out with my wife Julie and
our rescued fur-kids you will find me on a bicycle racing for The
TwinSpires.com Cycling Team.