Pet Obesity: Killing Our Canines With Kindness

Just like their human counterparts, animals are suffering from a growing problem with becoming overweight and obese in today’s society. Recent figures from APOP (Association for Pet Obesity Prevention) share some frightening statistics that show this dangerous dilemma is continuing to rise in our pet population. In the United States, over half of all dogs and almost 60% of cats are considered overweight or obese.

When we pack on a few extra pounds, sometimes it’s barely noticeable, but for dogs, just three pounds can often represent 20% or more of their total body weight. Similar to their two-legged masters, this extra weight also puts them at an increased risk for a number of different diseases and health problems. For dogs, the top ten include:

1.    Arthritis
2.    Bladder and urinary tract diseases
3.    Thyroid and hormone production problems
4.    Liver disease
5.    Torn knee ligaments
6.    Diabetes
7.    Diseased and degenerative discs in their spine
8.    Fatty growths and other tissues
9.    Chronic kidney diseases and failure
10.  Heart disease and failure

This increased weight can put enormous pressure on all of their joints, muscles and other parts of their body including their internal organs. It also causes CCL (cruciate ligament) and hock injuries, leads to carpal hyperextension, along with other painful and problematic conditions that often leads to dogs need to wear braces.

Reducing The Risks

The biggest factor with weight gain in our animals is from feeding them too much, followed closely  by a lack of exercise and activity. Feeding them table scraps, giving them too many treats and leaving a full bowl of kibble out for them all day long are some of the biggest culprits. The only way to reduce the risk of them becoming overweight is feeding them a sensible diet and maintaining a healthy exercise schedule.

Swap Out Treats For Healthier Snacks

As parents of two-legged children, some of us struggle with getting our kids to eat their vegetables, but you might be surprised to find out what healthy alternatives your pet might enjoy. For example, some dogs think carrots are colorful chew toys and will gnaw on them until there’s nothing left. Other healthy treats for dogs include:

     Apples (without the skin and seeds)
     Blueberries and strawberries
     Melons and cantaloupe
     Watermelon (again seedless and without the rind)

Avoid grapes and raisins that contain chemical compounds that are dangerous for dogs. Also steer clear of nuts, tomatoes, and avocados which are also unhealthy for pets.


 Increasing Activity Levels

While many of us will walk our dogs daily, sometimes this isn’t enough activity to prevent weight gain or help with weight loss. If your dog is already overweight, start out with smaller exercise sessions and work your way up to longer workout routines.

Think outside the box when it comes to exercising your animal. For example, while many breeds enjoy swimming, there’s a rising trend with a canine competition called Dock Diving. These traveling animal contests pit dogs against each other measuring the lengths and heights they can accomplish when running and then diving off the deck of a dock into a portable swimming pool. Even a trip to the lake or other local watering holes can offer them some low impact exercise, especially on a hot summer’s day.

Make sure to always consult your veterinarian before changing your dog’s diet and exercise regimes. I’m sure they’ll agree with healthier eating choices, but depending on factors like age, breed, size and other circumstances, together you can make a plan for the best activity level for your four-legged friend.

You may Like to Watch this Video On Dangers of Pet Obesity by Veterinary Specialty Hospital of San Diego

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