We love our pets, don’t we? We groom them, we take good care of them and most of all we adore them. Have you noticed how quickly pets can take on the personalities of their owners? They often share so many traits of their owners that they almost look like their owners right?
When our pets do what we do, watch what we watch and eat what we eat, there ought to be more than just visual similarities. And there are. You and your pets, both felines and canines, can share a whole lot more than that. In fact, you can share diseases including cancer and heart disease. However, one of the recent additions to that list is obesity.
To put things in perspective, let me give you a bit of statistics from the 2014 survey conducted by the Association of Per Obesity Prevention. According to the survey, about 53% of dogs and 58% of cats in the US are obese. What’s more troubling is that 90% of the owners did not even realize that their pets are overweight.
And recent data from Nationwide, a leading pet insurance provider shows that the insurance claims from conditions and diseases related to obesity have seen a dramatic rise over the last couple of years. As a matter of fact, these claims rose by as much as 10%.
In the year 2014 alone, the company received an astonishing 42000 claims for the most common obesity-related disease in dogs – arthritis. The average treatment cost for this condition is $292 per pet. The felines, on the other hand, suffer from bladder and urinary tract diseases as a result of obesity. The company received 4700 insurance claims for these conditions in cats averaging $424 per cat. That’s one of many reasons pet owners should consider getting health insurance on their pets.
Why are there more obese pets now than before?
Well, the easiest answer to this important question comes from observing the owners. If you are overweight or obese, there’s a good chance that your pets will suffer from obesity as well. A recent study in the Journal of Nutrition found a positive correlation between the rise of obesity among pets and their owners. The study also concluded that a number of diseases of the pets stem from obesity, similar to humans.
The problem of obesity in pets
According to many veterinarians, obesity is the leading cause of health issues in both cats and dogs. Dr. Susan Nelson, clinical associate professor in the department of clinical sciences at Kansas State University Veterinary Health Center said that overweight animals suffer from many health issues.
Obese animals occasionally suffer from joint diseases, heart conditions and even type II diabetes.
What can you do?
The first thing that you can do is to see whether your pet is overweight and it’s not that difficult to tell. If you take a look at your cat or dog from any position except right above, you should see that hourglass shape. Both cats and dogs should have a thin layer of fat over their ribs and the bellies should be tucked up and not at the same level or bulge away from the ribcage.
Dr. Nelson advises pet owners to limit the amount of treats and increase exercise time to 20-30 minutes every day. Exercise stimulates the metabolism of pets, just like humans, and helps them to reduce weight naturally. Also, if your pets are just lying around, they will need much fewer calories to meet their daily calorific requirements.
According to Dr. Nelson, most pet owners find it easier to exercise a dog than a cat. She advises pet owners to scatter the food around the house so that the pets will have to do some physical exercise to get it.
Another thing that pet owners need to keep in mind is that the calorific needs of your pets will change when you switch from the puppy to adult formula. Asking a veterinarian for guidance will help you to decide and control the calories that you feed your pets.
Some simple tips for keeping your pets healthy
Many renowned veterinarians offer some simple steps to keep the flab away from your pets. Some of these very easy to implement steps are:
Monitor the amount of food that you give your pet, that way you can keep a check on whether you are overfeeding them
Avoid feeding leftovers and scraps from your plates to your pets
Make sure that you are not giving your pets treats too often
Establish an exercise routine. This will not only help your pet but you as well