My dog’s not fat – he’s just fluffy! It’s an old joke. But pet obesity is not funny. Pet parents in America are literally killing their pets with kindness. We feed them too much food – food often filled with empty calories that don’t meet their nutritional needs. We keep them crated or alone indoors all day while we work. Then when we get home in the evening, we are otherwise occupied or are too tired to give them the aerobic exercise they need every day. It’s a recipe for disaster and heartbreak. And our beloved pets suffer.
Obesity is now the greatest health threat to American pets. It kills millions of dogs and cats prematurely, causes them great pain and suffering, and costs owners millions of dollars in avoidable veterinary expenses.
The most recent survey from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention indicates that 53.8% of U.S. dogs are overweight or obese. That translates to 41.9 million dogs! As for cats, 58.2% or 49.9 million are overweight or obese.
The keys to keeping your pet at a healthy weight are 1.) feed a nutritionally balanced, species-appropriate diet; 2.) practice portion control; and 3.) insure that your pet gets plenty of exercise.
If your furry friend has a weight problem, start by talking with your vet about the right choice of food and the appropriate amount to feed. Regardless of their weight, your dog or cat needs the right nutrition for their species, meaning food that is high in animal protein and moisture, with low or no grain content.
It’s also very important to practice portion control – usually a morning and evening meal, carefully measured. Experts agree that a high protein, low carb diet with the right amount of calories for weight loss, controlled through the portions you feed, will help your pet lose weight. And don’t forget to factor in any calories from treats.
That brings us to the need for regular exercise. An overweight body gets back in shape by taking in fewer calories and expending more energy. Daily exercise, including at least 20 minutes of consistent aerobic activity, will help your pet burn fat, increase muscle tone and help prevent boredom and destructive behaviors.
Walkies! is a five-week, conditioning aerobic walking program for obese dogs offered through Prancing Poodle Pet Care Services. Working in conjunction with you and your veterinarian, we will help your dog build up to the recommended 30 minutes of aerobic walking daily by gradually increasing the pace of walks five days a week. You take over on the weekends.
Call or text us to learn more about this program and how it can help your dog on the path to a healthier future and longer life. Reservations are being accepted now for the Walkies! program that starts on September 18.