Eco Lassie is always dieting. As more Americans confront their own weight issues, it seems their pets are affected, too. New data out last week showed the problem with overweight house pets has reached what is called “epidemic” proportions, with over 50% of American house dogs and cats overweight or obese.
“Obese” in pets is defined as 30% above their normal weight. The main causes are exactly what you’d think: owners overfeed their pets, and don’t exercise them enough. Owners with pet insurance have made it possible to track some of the costs of medical problems this causes their pets. In 2010, $25 million dollars was paid to vets for obesity-related conditions.
These include ligament ruptures, disc disease, and asthma. Other common problems your pet can endure with too much weight to carry around are diabetes, arthritis, kidney failure and high blood pressure.
How can you tell if your pet is carting around too many pounds to be healthy? Try to feel your pet’s ribs. Can you find them easily or do you have to root around? Check out a side view of your pet. That hanging belly indicates excess fats. Cats whose bellies drag on the floor are called “swishers” and this is not the way to keep your floors clean! Finally, look at your pet from above. You should be able to see a moderate tapered look of a ‘waistline’ instead of a flat, broad back.
What can pet owners do to avoid overfeeding their pets? Increasing exercise and decreasing portion size usually is the first and easiest step. A high-protein and fiber, low-fat diet helps. Cutting back on snacks and table scraps is another big area to consider. If your pet needs a snack, try steamed veggies. Buy biscuits in the smallest size, no matter the size of your pet, and break them in half. Finally, calculating calories will help you to figure out the right portion size for your pet.
Don’t forget, commercial pet food companies want to sell their food and want you to use it up quickly. Their label recommendations may be too much portion size for your pet, especially if Fifi or Max has been neutered or spayed, or gets little exercise. Like ease, or leaving your pet at a kennel or with a sitter? Hill’s Pet Nutition, Inc. which makes Science Diet and Prescription Diet foods, has a line of weight-reduction food systems with meals and biscuits in pre-measured packets.
Increase exercise for your pet. Even chasing a toy or a laser pointer is good for your inside cat. Large breed dogs need 30-60 minutes of play or a walk of 2-3 miles a day to remain fit; smaller breeds 15-30 minutes. Cats need shorter bursts of activity several times a day; 5-15 minutes of toy chasing will keep Lola slim.
You can check calories for many food brands at: http://www.petobesityprevention.com. Here are some typical stats:
Labrador retriever: 55-75 lbs; 980-1,300 daily calories
Beagle: 18-30 lbs; 380-575 cal.
Yorkshire terrier: under 7 lbs; 180-200 cal.
German shepherd dog: 75-95 lbs; 1,300-1,650 cal.
Golden Retriever: 55-75 lbs; 980-1,300 cal.
Cats: standard, 8-12 lbs, with males 2-4 lbs heavier than females. Larger breeds, such as a Maine Coon cat, may be fine at 18 lbs.
Now that you know the facts, you can assess your pet’s weight, keep them healthier, and most of all, have their companionship to a ripe old age.
Neither Eco Lassie nor Eco Women receive any consideration from noted companies.