We all do it. I even do it.
After working 11 hours straight, I came home to my dog, Riley. She was great, didn't even make a mess when I had to work through my lunch hour and consequently, not let her outside for a potty break.
So what do I do? I reach in to the jar for her favorite treat - a pig ear as a reward and to say "sorry."
I know that what she really wants, is just to spend more time with me. But sometimes, I just don't have all the time she deserves. So I spoil her, appologize, and give her treats. While I am lucky, Riley has always been an easy keeper and stays at a healthy weight, I know I am playing a part in her health.
On my average day, I would estimate that 60% of all of my patients are overweight, and that percentage is even higher in my senior patients - which is the category that Riley belongs in.
I have the same conversation dozens of times each week..."How much are you feeding Fido?" "How big are those cups?" "Does Fluffy get any table/human food?" "How many treats do you give Rex?"
Most of the time, the pet parents are aware that their dog is slightly heavy, but did not recognize the extent of their pet's obesity. Obesity in pets is very serious. It can mean YEARS off of their life, not to mention increased joint pain and predisposing them to numerous other health problems such as diabetes and kidney disease.
How can I tell if my pet is fat?
1) You have difficulty feeling your pet's ribs
2) Your pet has a saggy stomach and you can grab a handful of fat
3) Your pet does not have an hourglass figure (waist line) when viewed from above.
If you suspect that your pet is "a little" overweight, bring him/her down to the clinic to get their weight - free of charge. Don't feel guilty if your pet is overweight, because YOU can help them get to a healthy weight and increase their quality of life.
What if that extra weight looks fine to me?
The problem is, a couple pounds to a dog or cat is a lot.
For example, the ideal body weight for most cats is 8 to 10 pounds. If that cat was a 5’4” adult woman, a healthy weight for her would be 110-145lbs. However, if a cat weighs 14 pounds, its 5’4” human equivalent would be 200lbs or more!
And just like with humans, extra weight causes disease like arthritis, diabetes, pancreatitis and high blood pressure.
How do I help my pet get healthier?
Would you like to help your pet shed the extra weight and decrease their risk of these serious conditions? We are here to help!
Don’t worry. A weight management plan doesn’t have to be complicated—or costly—and there are ways to make slimming down seem like the best thing ever to your pet.
Here are four ways to keep your pet happy with healthier eats and play:
Don’t cut out treats. Ask us to recommend a healthy way to treat your pet like with extra attention (that’s what they really want, right?) or a veterinarian-approved single-ingredient snack. Believe it or not, most dogs love baby carrots, broccoli, celery, and cucumbers—even asparagus.
Make eating fun—and burn calories. Use food puzzles and other toys, or hide small bowls of food around the house. If your pet is on a canned food diet, put their food in a Kong and freeze it - make them work for their food!
Go play. Take walks and play fetch with your pet—get out there and get moving!