Thursday, July 31, 2008

Pet Obesity - A Real Health Crisis

An overweight pet can have health risks including, severe respiratory, cardiac, metabolic and orthopedic dysfunction. Obesity can shorten their life span. This extra weight puts a strain on their heart, body and their health in general.

Is your pet overweight? There are two simple tests that show obesity:
1. Run your hands across the chest of your dog or cat. You should always be able to feel their ribs but not see them. There should never be a layer of fat over the ribs. 2. Look at your standing dog or cat from a bird's eye view. They should have what looks like a waist that tucks in right in front of the hips.

Here are some tips to get your pet back into shape: 1. Control portions. Look at everything you are feeding your pet - pet food, treats, human food, scraps and reduce that amount. (Don't starve them!) 2. Control quality. Don't feed your pet human junk food like pizza, chips or sweets such as baked goods, ice cream or cookies. Home-prepared meals using fresh ingredients are acceptable. Wholesome items such as brown rice, fresh lean meats and vegetables are recommended. Watch for the high grain content in most commercial food. 3. Increase exercise. Get into the habit of walking your dog every day. Getting outdoors is good for a pet's emotional health, too. With dogs, you can also play fetch, play hide and seek, set up obstacle courses for them or take them swimming. Cats can stay active indoors or out by playing with toys or being walked outside on a leash.

All pet food companies make diet or weight control foods, but be careful they contain alot of fillers. They usually contain grains, not meat and vegetables. Homemade meals tend to be lower in calories and healthier than prepared pet foods. Portion control and increased activity are the main issues in reducing or managing an animal's weight.