Friday, January 28, 2011
Is Your Dog Fat?
Studies show between 25 and 40 percent of all American household pets are overweight or obese. This information was provided by Veterinary Pet Insurance, the nation's largest pet insurer. Their data suggests that this trend is leading to a steady rise in obesity-related pet illnesses and increased veterinary costs. Claims for obesity-related illnesses, such as diabetes and joint/back issues, have increased steadily.
"Humans aren't the only Americans being affected by our obesity epidemic-millions of American pets are growing from fluffy to flabby," said Dr. Peter Weinstein, medical director of Veterinary Pet Insurance and president of the California Veterinary Medical Association.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, up to 60 percent of American adults are overweight or obese. Additionally, an article printed in the Journal of Nutrition indicates obese pet owners are up to three times more likely to have overweight dogs.
"As we have moved to a more sedentary and pampered culture, so have our pets," said Weinstein. "Today, pets enjoy the same comfort food choices, plush surroundings and relaxed lifestyles that many Americans typically enjoy."
If your pet waddles, has a pendulous abdomen, and does not have the pep it used to have; your pet may be overweight. Pets that are 10 percent to 15 percent above the ideal body weight for their specific breed are considered obese.
Reasons for pet obesity include a lack of exercise and overfeeding and a variety of medical causes including hypothyroidism. Eager to please their pets, owners often indulge their pets with snacks and treats, or feed them human food. Age can also be a factor. After the age of seven, pets gain weight more easily as their metabolism slows.
According to Weinstein, once pets are suffering from obesity, veterinarians can help produce and monitor a diet and exercise plan to help animals return to a healthy weight. Of course, preventing obesity is much easier than losing unwanted weight once it is gained.
"In order to prevent pets from becoming obese, pet owners should monitor portion size, avoid table scraps and get lots of exercise with their pets," Weinstein said. "Regular check ups with a veterinarian is one way to keep a close tab on your pet's health and obesity. The earlier you catch a weight-related issue, the less life threatening it might become."
So, is your dog fat?