October 8, 2014 is National Pet Obesity Awareness Day. While at first it may seem unusual to have an entire day dedicated to pet obesity, we think you’ll quickly realize that this issue has reached an all time high in the United States and is something that needs to be addressed for the health of our beloved pets. It is currently estimated that 54% of American pets are obese, and that these numbers are on the rise, reaching epidemic proportions.
The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) was formed to create campaigns that educate and fight pet obesity. They work within the veterinary medical community, veterinary schools, as well as state and local veterinary organizations to spread their mission of awareness and action. APOP is composed of veterinarians and veterinary health personnel who are dedicated to improving the lives of cats and dogs and helping them to lead a healthier existence.
Most pets in the US are overweight simply because they are overfed, and under exercised based on their bodies needs. So while this is generally a problem that is caused by PetParents over-loving their dogs, it’s also a problem that can be easily fixed with a few new habits and additions to your routine. As our pets age, their risk of obesity and obesity-related diseases increase. Issues like heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes all commonly occur in obese pets. If your pet is overweight or obese there are many things you can do as a Pet Parent to help them improve their physique and over all health. Keep in mind that YOU control your pets food, and you must make the choices that are best for them.
- Closely measure all food given: be sure you’re using the same measuring cup each time, and carefully portioning out your pets food. Just a few extra pieces of kibble can go a long way to putting on the pounds!
- Have your dog work for their food– don’t just plop down a down a bowl of food for your dogs dinner. How boring! Instead, turn dinner time into training time- have your dog practice their commands and tricks in exchange for their dinner.
- Play feeding games with your dog– the physical and mental stimulation from feeding toys will improve your dogs over all well being and keep them active. See some feeding game ideas here.
- Keep a food journal- record every meal, every treat. This will keep the entire family on track with just how much the pup’s had to snack on in any given day.
- Begin a dedicated walking regime- walking is an ideal way to get your pup moving and active and to start shedding those pounds! See below for a detailed walking guide.
While you have a goal of your pet loosing weight, is is important to keep your pets veterinarian as a part of the conversation. They will no doubt be your biggest supporter in this adventure, because they always have your pets best interest in mind. Your vet may suggest a change in diet, or recommend various types of exercise over others based on your pets current health status. You should plan on doing monthly weigh-ins at the vet to ensure you and your pet stay on track with their weight-loss and so that you can make any changes to their regime as needed.
Walking Schedule for Doggie Weight Loss:
Week One: 10 minutes briskly, 20 minute casually (30 minute walk, 5-7x/week)
Week Two: 15 minute briskly, 15 minutes casually (30 minute walk, 5-7x/week)
Week Three: 20 minute briskly, 10 minute casually (30 minute walk, 5-7x/week)
Week Four: 30 minutes briskly, 10 minute casually (40 minute walk, 5-7x/week)
Week Five: 30-40 minute briskly, 5-10 minute casually (40-50 minute walk 7x/week)
Learn about your pets caloric needs based on their size and weight or see where your pet measures up by trying out the Pet Weight Translator available from Pet Obesity Prevention. If you find your pup’s got pounds to loose, you can begin formulating a weight loss plan from there.