For healthier pets, watch their weight

Obesity and being overweight are human health problems that we hear a lot about these days. What doesn’t receive as much attention is the fact that many pets are suffering from the very same problems. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimates that 88.4 million U.S. dogs and cats, or 54 percent, are overweight or obese. And that can lead to health problems such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and even some cancers.

Many pet owners aren’t aware that their pets are overweight. A study from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine found that 22 percent of dog owners and 15 percent of cat owners described their pets as being normal weight, when they were actually overweight or obese.

A little extra weight can mean a lot more to your pet than you. Just two pounds of extra weight on a Chihuahua would be equivalent to more than 60 additional pounds on an adult human. Even just four pounds too many on a 10-pound Siamese cat would be equivalent to almost 40 extra pounds on a human.

An overweight can might often appear tired and lazy, hesitate when jumping onto furniture, have difficulty grooming including matted hair on the back or tail area and might resist playing games. Your dog might be overweight if it has many of the same signs, but they might also lag behind on walks, pant constantly, need help getting in the car and bark without getting up. Signs to look for include being able to feel your pet’s ribs or spine, being able to see their waist and a sagging abdomen.

The best weight to keep your pet the correct weight is to adjust its feeding habits. Most importantly, never feed your pet table scrapes and stick to the recommended daily feeding guide. You may want to weigh out the amount at the beginning of the day to avoid accidental overfeeding and then divide this into several meals for the most efficient weight loss.

Consider keeping your pet in another room when preparing or eating your own meals and never leave any food lying around. And if you have multiple pets it’s always a good idea to feed them separately.

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