Dr. Christina Frick, D.V.M.
Americans are getting heavier, and so are our pets. Some pet owners think their dogs are just a little fluffy or big boned!! And others simply equate feeding their dogs with showing them love. Studies indicate that 50 % of pets in the U.S. are overweight or obese, a condition that creates or contributes to a wide range of health issues. Obesity is the number one nutritional disorder among dogs & cats.
Check your dog’s feeding and exercise habits. Is your dog’s breed prone to obesity? Retrievers, Labradors, Goldens, Beagles, Basset Hounds, Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, Shelties & Terriers. Do you have a multi dog household? These dogs eat more and faster. Is your dog over 5 years old and still being fed the same type of food and amount as a puppy? Is it difficult to feel your dog’s ribs? Is your dog’s body more Square-shaped when looking at the belly area between the rib cage and hindquarters? Do you regularly feed table scraps or multiple non meal treats each day? When you feed your pet do you just pour the food into the bowl (rather than giving a specific measured amount each time)? Does your dog have difficulty standing up or jumping on the couch? Does your dog get less than 20-30 minutes per day of outside exercise/play time? If half or more of these questions are yes, your dog may be overweight or living a lifestyle that could lead them to become overweight. Please set up a appointment with Dr. Frick to discuss an action plan for your pet.
The health problems include reduced life span, reduced activity, impaired heart, liver, & breathing functions, digestive disturbances, increased surgical risk, skin problems, arthritis, slipped disks, heat stress, increased diabetes risk, difficulty in giving birth, anal gland impaction and excessive gas and/or constipation.
Common causes of obesity are diet, heredity, or hormonal disorders. The most common is over-consumption of food.
As Americans continue to adapt to a more sedentary and pampered lifestyle so will our pets. The number one way to help your pet is Eat Less, Move More.
What to look for include: dogs tend to carry their fat behind the front legs, along the back and tail base. This makes the ribs difficult to feel and no waist seen. Cats carry their fat along the lower abdomen, in the abdomen, and in the face.
Help your pet be trimmer in the next year:
Know how many calories your pet needs to maintain a healthy weight.
Know the caloric content of the food you are feeding. Look at the package label.
Keep a food diary of every item that is offered, including all human table food & treats.
Use only an 8 oz. measuring cup to portion out dry food daily. The pet food company’s labels on the bags are based on 8 oz. measuring cup. Feed only the amount the bag says for your pet’s age and weight. The pet foods are formulated to maintain a healthy weight when fed by the labeled amount only.
Feeding several small meals over the course of the day may reduce an animal’s desire to scavenge. Split up the recommended amount of food 2-3 times a day.
Identify those snacks and treats that are high in calories and replace with no-calorie or low calorie treats. Frick Vet Services carries many healthy treat options.
Treats and snacks should be portioned out in small amounts, no bigger than the size of your thumbnail. When you give treats you also need to reduce the amount of food you feed that day to stay at the same calorie intake for the day. Treats do have calories!!
Require your pet to perform a trick or complete an obedience command before offering a treat or snack; encourage your pet to work for treats!!
Consider placing the food bowl at the top or bottom of a staircase, so that your pet must climb stairs to reach its food (you get exercise this way too)
When exercising outdoors is not an option, have your dog do some doggy sit-ups before each meal or for a treat. (“sit” and “lay down” repeated three times)
Purchase a toy that can hold small pieces of kibble and use it as a means to provide exercise and some of the pet’s daily calories. Frick Vet Services has many new kongs, toys and nutritious snacks to stuff inside them.
Good habits and prevention starts with the owner. It is easier to start a puppy or kitten out right on an exercise plan, and the correct food diet & amount. But even older animals can start anytime. Dr. Frick carries many commercial prescription weight loss diet foods for pets and weight maintenance foods.
Make an appointment with Frick Vet Services for your dog’s free weight assessment. Get on the way to a healthier year for your pet and your family.