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Obesity in Pets

We love our pets and want to make sure they are healthy and happy. Just like humans, a part of maintaining good health in pets is maintaining a proper weight.  Obesity in pets is a very common problem now. In fact, more than half of all dogs (53%) and cats (58%) are overweight or obese, according to a 2015 study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention! As pet owners, it is important to be informed about this prevalent problem, and learn how to take steps to fix or prevent obesity and provide the individualized care each pet needs to thrive and live long, happy healthy lives.

Often, pet parents do not realize their cat or dog is overweight and the dangers this can pose to their overall health and well-being. Gaining weight can happen in any breed, but if you have a Labrador retriever, cocker-spaniel, beagle, or dachshund, be sure to monitor their weight as these breeds are more susceptible to gaining weight.  Excess weight can lead to health issues including diabetes, joint and mobility problems, arthritis, hip dysplasia, back issues, high blood pressure, heart problems, breathing trouble, torn ligaments, and a shortened life span.

Just as obesity can cause health issues, it can be caused by medical conditions such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, Cushing’s disease, hyperadrenocorticism, medications like prednisone or phenobarbital, and decreased activity due to arthritis. We always encourage owners seek and follow their veterinarians’ advice for their pet’s own unique medical needs.

One of the primary causes of obesity in pets is improper diet, including overfeeding or poor nutrition. In our pet boutique we sell Acana and Orijen, two food brands we believe in and feed to our own pets. Obesity is an issue that is very near to my heart right now, because my orange cat Archie was beginning to resemble Garfield. As his waistline expanded, so did my concern for his health, so I switched his food to the Acana Wild Atlantic for Cats, and only feed him the appropriate amount at structured times every day and limit his treats. I also increased our playtime sessions together, which has been fun for both of us! Now I am happy to say he is well on his way to being at a healthy weight.

Overweight dogs and cats can benefit from diets limited in carbohydrates while rich in protein. Acana and Orijen are biologically appropriate dog and cat food made with fresh regional ingredients like free-run chicken and turkey, wild-caught fish, pork & squash, lamb & apple, and duck & pear. For dogs who want to lose weight, we recommend Orijen Fit & Trim formula. Ask us for more information on the long-term benefits of good food in addition to weight management next time you come in!

Always be mindful of portion control for your pets as well. Check the ingredients list, calories, and feeding instructions for your pet’s ideal weight and ensure you are not overfeeding. To keep your pet at a healthy weight and prevent obesity, provide a healthy balance between their food intake and physical activity. Be sure to include at least one daily walk or some playtime in your pet’s day; you can also bring them to doggy daycare for some exercise!

Just like people, every pet has their own unique set of habits, preferences, and medical needs we need to take into account when providing care for them. We love our animals, and we love making them happy. It’s important to also educate ourselves on how to keep them healthy too, so they live their best lives, and continue to enrich our own.

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