If you’ve noticed more people jogging, riding bikes, or simply walking around town, there’s a good reason: it’s spring! This is the best time to get moving and shave off some of those unnecessary pounds brought on by all the winter goodies. Before it gets too hot, we encourage all pet owners take advantage of the beautiful weather and longer days.
Picking up the pace this spring is not only great for your pet’s mental and physical health, but helps prevent obesity.
An Added Layer
Among all the reasons we recommend routine pet wellness care exams, charting your pet’s weight ranks pretty high. Even small, incremental increases of weight over a pet’s lifetime can help us address their nutrition and exercise requirements.
Since pet obesity is entirely preventable, we also take into account a 5-point body condition score to determine where your unique pet should be (1 is very thin, 5 is obese). Depending on species, breed, and body type, there is an “ideal” weight (3 on the body condition score) for every animal.
Why It Matters
Pet obesity is on the rise. With over half of all American cats and dogs categorized as overweight or obese, it’s critical to stay in front of any possible weight gain.
Extra pounds not only shorten a pet’s lifespan, but also diminish their quality of life. Plus, with many serious associated health complications, like respiratory disorders, heart problems, diabetes, arthritis, and more, it’s vital to prevent it.
We can help you rule out certain medical conditions that may be causing weight gain, such as hypothyroidism. If nothing is diagnosed, then we can provide counseling regarding your pet’s dietary needs and exercise requirements. Much of the time, pet obesity is caused by simply eating too many calories without the right amount of physical exercise.
Once portion sizes and restricted meal times are enforced at home, you can help prevent prevent obesity by working out together.
- Dogs need at least 30 minutes of brisk walking/jogging every day. You can build up to that over time if your dog is unaccustomed to this, or go a couple times a day for shorter periods. Senior pets may need extra encouragement, frequent breaks, and rests in the shade. Be careful not to push them too hard.
- Playing fetch instead of hanging out on the couch and rewarding with affection and grooming instead of treats are easy, healthy changes any dog owner can make.
- Cats, especially strictly indoor-only cats, benefit from chasing catnip mice or a laser. Install steps or bridges for them to climb on. Aim for 30 minutes of play time every day. If you can, train your cat to walk on a leash. It’s fun!
Pet Obesity Is Not the Way
We encourage you to request an appointment with us if it’s been awhile since your pet’s weight was addressed. Pet obesity can really sneak up on owners, but if acknowledged as a real risk for a pet that begs for treats or resists exercise, it’s entirely preventable.
As always, our veterinarians and staff members are always here to assist you with questions or concerns.