The rounding of our pets

For today’s post, we turn once again to our health and fitness guru, Sean Lang, here to talk about a “big” pet problem.  Take it away, Sean!

Previously, I wrote about lacing up the running shoes and starting a running program with your pooch.  This next health installment focuses on the prevalence of obesity in the pet population, and ways to help your pet shed those extra pounds!

A cross-species problem:

America’s waistline has been steadily growing over the years, and unfortunately the Obesity pandemic has carried over to our pets. In a 2010 survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), it was reported that over half of America’s pets are overweight or obese! The researchers surveyed 383 adult dogs, and 133 adult cats from 29 clinics located in 29 different states. It was reported that 56% of dogs were either overweight or obese and 54% of cats were overweight or obese. A closer look at these statistics shows that 21% of dogs and 22% of cats were beyond overweight, and were now obese. While these statistics are high, it is not unexpected, especially when we compare it to the American obesity rates  (currently 34% of American adults are obese).

The risks:

Everyone wants their pet to live a healthy and happy life, but the health risks of being overweight can threaten our pets’ well-being. Similarly to humans, overweight pets can develop what is called “metabolic syndrome.” Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of health risks that can be attributed to being overweight. These health risks include insulin resistance, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Possibly most damaging is the effect the weight has on pets’ joints. Common joint maladies include arthritis and tears to the knee ligaments. These painful ailments often lead to surgery, which can cost the pet owner thousands of dollars and make it harder for pets to exercise in the future..

Fun solutions:

While the statistics of this post seem grim, there is an easy solution to help your furry friends… Exercise and Diet! The first step, as always, is to consult your veterinarian to get advice on the amount of exercise and food to feed your pet. After consulting your vet, develop a regular exercise and eating schedule. Easy walks, swims , or a trip to the dog park to play with other dogs are all possible exercise options. As your pet starts trimming down consider incorporating running into the routine.  If your schedule is completely booked, consider a dog walker or pet sitter that can exercise your pet and administer regular feeding.

Most everyone wants the best for their pet, and just like people, exercise and diet are vital components of any pet’s wellness program!

Now your moment of zen:

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