Over Weight Pets Part I - Does this leash make me look fat?
Overweight Dogs and Cats
56 percent of dogs and cats in America are overweight. When a pet is overweight, they are at risk for developing severe, secondary medical conditions. These include:
High blood pressure
Heart and respiratory disease
Shorter Life Expectancy
Not only do heavier dogs and cats have less interaction with their human companions, but they tend to live shorter lives. Because of the extra pounds they carry, some owners feel it is “normal laziness” or that “cats are supposed to sleep all day” which may mask more serious, medical conditions.
Is Your Pet Overweight?
How can you tell if your pet is overweight or not? Looking from the side and the top of the animal, you should see a distinct waist line. There should not be any bulges or bumps. You should be able to feel the ribs as you lightly run your hands over the chest area (no cheating – squeezing the chest does not count!). If you can reach under your pets belly and grab a hand full of fat – your pet is overweight.
Check With Your Vet
Although weight loss is tough, it will add years to your pet’s life and make those years more enjoyable for both of you. To start, check with your pets veterinarian before starting any weight lose program as there may be medical conditions that is causing your pet to be overweight. Some common diseases that tend to pack on the pounds are Cushing’s disease or hypothyroidism and they need to be ruled out before beginning any diet or exercise routine. You can schedule an appointment with your local veterinary assistant to check for these conditions.
How To Exercise Your Pet
An easy place to start is with exercise. Although dogs like to “stroll” at a leisurely pace, checking each bush and blade of grass for the previous visitor, a more brisk pace would certainly burn more calories. Keep the leash tight and close to your body. Start off at an easy walk or jog (remember to pick a pace that you would be able to handle) for 10-15 minutes. For cats, feathers attached on the end of a stick and waved around is usually enough to grab and hold their attention for several minutes of chasing and playing. Squeaky toys, balls, or anything that your pet finds fascinating is a good choice for play time.
However, sometimes exercise is not enough and the possibility of lowering the calories your pet consumes has to be added to the weight loss program. Attending a veterinary assistant school will help you learn how to recognize an overweight pet where you can assistant the owner in ways to reduce their pet’s weight.