Last week, we covered grain-free diets for pets. While most veterinarians recommend a grain free, wet food diet for cats, the canine diet doesn’t necessarily need to be so restricted. To learn more about it, click here. Regardless, diet–in addition to lack of exercise–is behind the growing pet obesity epidemic in this country. The Association of Pet Obesity Prevention conducted a survey with vets and pet owners, and the results showed that approximately 54% of dogs and cats in the U.S. are overweight or obese. Fortunately, almost 100% of the time, pet obesity is preventable. This week’s post will provide some tips on easy ways for pet owners to tell if their pets are overweight.
Ask Your Vet
The easiest way to tell if your pet is obese is to ask your vet. This is partly why regular check-ups are important. A veterinarian will keep track of your pet’s weight during each visit and let you know if there’s cause for concern. Your vet will also have recommendations for ways to ensure that your dog or cat is getting the best diet that you can afford. Many vets who specialize in feline care will tell pet owners that they would rather see a cat on a mediocre quality wet food than a high quality dry food. Every dog or cat is different and will have specific dietary needs, and even though a grain free diet is not as necessary for dogs, some breeds have been known to have gluten allergies.
Pet Weight Guides
A pet weight translator is a handy tool for comparing your pet’s weight to a human’s weight. For instance, a typical healthy, indoor cat’s ideal weight is 8 to 10 pounds, so it makes sense that a 14 pound cat is the same as a 237 pound man. The weight translator is a handy way to get a quick glimpse of what an average dog or cat should weigh, but as stated on the Prevention website, this is only a comparison tool. Your vet should be the one to make any assessments about your pet’s weight and overall health.
You can also use their Pet Weight Check tool, which is a quick guide that helps determine whether or not you should be concerned enough to speak with your vet about your pet’s weight. Getting plenty of exercise can help, but a lot of the problem stems from poor nutrition. Educating pet owners about the nutritional guidelines for pets and what to look for on pet food labels is also part of the solution. You may be surprised to find that what’s actually in your pet’s food is not what is stated on the label. While you think your dog or cat is getting a balanced diet, the label claims can be misleading. This means that your pet could be getting more calories and fat than necessary while not getting the minimum requirement for essential vitamins and minerals, which also means that as pets gain unnecessary weight, they aren’t even getting the nutrients they need.
Next week, we will look at some research that our own VetriScience® Animal Product Development team conducted comparing nutrition labels on popular dog food brands with what’s actually in the food. In the meantime, we encourage you to speak with your vet about proper nutrition and your pet’s weight.
Do you have an overweight pet? How did you know that your pet had a weight problem? Share your story with us on Facebook.