Well-loved pets are often too-well-fed pets: two recent surveys found that in the past 10 years, the number of overweight dogs has increased 158%. For overweight cats, the percentage is even higher at 169%. One in every three pets is overweight, and that problem causes a 17% rise in vet care costs for dog owners and a 36% increase for cat owners.
Just like with humans, carrying extra weight can cause or exacerbate health problems. The most common obesity-related diseases in canines include osteoarthritis, urinary tract disease, hepatitis, diabetes, and congestive heart failure. For cats, you can add asthma, chronic renal disease, hypertension and gallbladder disease to the list.
There are a few things you can do to adjust your pet’s lifestyle and get him or her on the road to a healthier weight, including:
• Measuring your pet’s food to make sure you’re not overfeeding
• Placing food into toys that require interaction with your dog or cat to receive a food reward (food puzzle)
• Hiding kibble around the house so that your cat must hunt for food, or put it high on a kitty tree
• Spreading meals out throughout the day (but make sure the total amount fed for the day is the correct amount)
• Play with your cat or dog using love and attention, not treats