We all enjoy a great meal, savoring each bite and enjoying every morsel. What if we were to assume that our dog feels the same way? If we have a hard time controlling what we eat, what about them?
What are some of the causes of pet obesity?
Treats are the biggest contributor to the current pet obesity epidemic. Today’s treats are pumped full of fat and sugar, making them highly desirable but extremely unhealthy. In fact, this added sugar and fat causes changes to a dog’s brain. It is not uncommon to see indoor dogs that consume over half of their required calories each day in the form of goodies. Combine high-calorie treats with an essentially inactive lifestyle and obesity develops.
Dog owners don’t often understand how many calories are in those tiny treats. For example, if you feed a 10-pound dog one Milk-Bone Gravy Bones for Small and Medium Size Dogs dog biscuit, it contains 45 calories. That doesn’t sound too bad until you realize that a dog that size probably only needs about 200 to 220 calories each day. That single biscuit equals 21% of the total calories that dog should eat in a day! If an average human were to eat an equivalent amount of calories, they would need to eat two Krispy Kreme Chocolate Iced Glazed Doughnuts. Imagine if you did that two or three times a day; you’d be obese in no time!
How does obesity affect a pet’s health? It’s life span?
The major health risks associated with obesity in dogs and cats include arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, respiratory problems and many forms of cancer. In addition, weight-related disorders not only cause needless suffering, they also cost pet owners tens of millions of dollars each year.
What should a dog owner feed their dog to help it lose weight?
Choosing a weight-loss diet isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. There are many considerations including the dog’s current health status, amount of weight that needs to be lost, taste and textural preferences and the owner’s interests and abilities. Consult your Veterinarian; they know your dog and the requirements for a healthy diet.
7. How can pet owners help keep their pets fit?
The simplest way is to get moving, keep your dog fit is to walk daily for a total of 30 minutes. Walking not only benefits your dog but you’ll gain health improvements as well. Strive for a 15 to 18 minute per mile pace to get your dog into its fat-burning zone.
8. Do you think pet owners know their dogs are overweight?
People’s perception about excess weight must shift from simply viewing love handles as unattractive to recognizing that their flabby waist is a noose choking their health. A dog’s thick mid-section is a hormone bomb factory waiting to explode.
In this age of cost-cutting and health reform, we must take responsibility for our health and that of our pets. The simplest thing anyone can to do to avoid illness is eat a healthy diet and exercise daily. As a veterinarian interested in obesity, my job is to educate people about their pets. If they learn a little about their own health in the process, everyone wins.
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