Pet Obesity

You and I face that moment of truth when we step on the bathroom scale and watch the needle pointing to those extra pounds. However, our pets cannot weigh themselves. They may be blissfully happy as they enjoy a heaping bowl of their favorite commercial pet food with a generous side-order of food from the table and an overabundance of treats. The result may be obesity - the leading nutritional disorder among pets. The truth is 30 to 40 percent of pets presented at veterinary clinics are obese.

Obesity can adversely affect a pet's health just as it can our health. It can exacerbate problems with the cardiovascular system and other major organs as well as aggravate existing health problems.

How can you tell if your pet is becoming obese? Do the rib check. If you cannot feel your pet's ribs or feel them only with heavy pressure, it's time to launch a weight reduction program.

For our pets, as in our own lives, diets with lower fat and fewer calories and regular exercise are necessary to take the pounds off. Many times simply eliminating food from the table and either eliminating or reducing treats will work. (I know, this won't be easy. Pets can be both persistent and persuasive in their coaxing. Hang in there.)

If eliminating these extras from your pet's diet isn't enough, reduce the amount of the complete and balanced pet food currently being fed. If you are feeding your pet free choice, offer the food in two or three feedings, You'll feed less, but still help satisfy your pet's appetite and keep it from begging. It's best to measure the amount of food for each serving. This helps keep the serving size consistent and prevents the temptation to pour a little extra in the bowl.

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