According to the 2014 survey taken by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, more than half of the cats and dogs in the United States are considered overweight or obese.

At first glance, that statement may not seem like anything earth-shattering, but it’s an undeniable fact that obesity shortens lives.  That’s something that applies to your feline or canine best friend just as it would to any human you know.  The explanation for that is most often found in the secondary complications that come about as a result of obesity. Those complications may include any number of ailments, such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Joint discomfort or damage (In fact, approximately 25% of overweight and obese pets develop some form of serious joint complications.)
  • Heart disease
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Digestive disorders
  • Skin and coat Issues
  • Increased risk for certain types of cancers

All of that makes sense, right? It’s easy to see how carrying more weight can place unnecessary demands on the body and all of its organs.

Really, the list of potential complications goes on, but the most important thing to consider is your pet’s quality of life. It’s a terrible thing to watch a pet suffer from something that was entirely preventable, and obesity falls easily into that category. Allowing your pet’s weight to get out of control is an injustice to your companion and your relationship, and it’s your responsibility as a pet owner to keep your pet as healthy and happy as possible.

Fortunately, as far as disease prevention goes, keeping your pet’s weight in check is relatively simple. Just as with humans, it’s a matter of burning more calories than are consumed: the classic “eat less, exercise more.”

It can be challenging to figure out how much your pet should be eating, but your family veterinarian can be your most useful resource in determining the best possible diet for your lifestyle. If you prefer to figure it out on your own, though, you can visit the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention website.  There, you’ll find a number of useful tools, like a calculator for determining your pet’s caloric needs, a daily feeding and activity log, and more.

On October 7, 2015, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention will conduct its Ninth Annual Pet Obesity Awareness Day survey.  If you or someone you know would like to participate, click HERE to learn more.

Featured Photo Credit: muhawi001 via Compfight cc