We’ve long known that obesity is one of the biggest threats to our health. Unfortunately, this problem is no longer limited to humans – pets are also suffering the effects of being overweight or obese. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an estimated 60% of cats and 56% of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese.

The Pet Experts care deeply about all pets, and we believe that owner education is the key to correcting and preventing pet obesity. Let’s start by tackling the top 5 pet weight myths!

5 Pet Weight Myths

Being overweight can shorten your pet’s lifespan and puts them at risk for conditions such as heart disease, osteoarthritis, certain cancers, urinary bladder stones, and more. Pet weight myths don’t help anyone, and making sure owners have the information they need to keep their pets healthy is our top priority.

  1. I don’t have time to exercise my pet. Exercise doesn’t have to take up a lot of time, and it’s critically important to your pet’s health and happiness. Take a few moments to look at your daily schedule, and get your whole family involved to make a commitment to exercising your pet. Fun ideas for exercise include:
    • Walking/running
    • A quick game of fetch, tug-of-war, or hide-and-seek
    • Use a string, feather toy, or ping pong ball to entice your cat to play
    • Place a cat tree or cardboard boxes around the house to encourage climbing and exploring
  2. My pet is “naturally chubby.” In the wild, animals aren’t chubby, and yours shouldn’t be either. Obesity in pets is an entirely preventable disease. Take a few moments to assess whether your pet might be obese or overweight:
    • You should be able to feel all of your pet’s ribs without a thick layer of fat covering them.
    • When viewed from above, your pet should have a “waist” – shoulders should be wider than the abdomen.
    • When viewed from the side, your pet’s belly should not droop excessively or hang low to the ground.
  3. Spaying/neutering causes weight gain. Dogs and cats don’t gain weight simply as a result of being sterilized. Eating too much and moving too little is the cause of weight gain in pets, just as it is in humans. Having your pet spayed or neutered is an important part of responsible pet ownership, and it can reduce or eliminate certain health and behavioral problems down the road.
  4. My pet should have access to food at all times. This couldn’t be further from the truth. While some pets are “nibblers” who tend to take little bites of food here and there, most will scarf down whatever you put in front of them. Without portion control, this can quickly lead to excess weight gain. We can help you figure out the right amount of food to feed your pet each day.
  5. Pets need the same amount of calories regardless of age. As pets age, their caloric and nutrient needs change. Older animals tend to have slower metabolisms and may be less active than their younger counterparts, but they still need a diet that’s rich in protein and micronutrients. Your veterinarian can help you determine the right type of food and portions to feed your older pet.

If you’re concerned about your pet’s weight, please give us a call. Your veterinarian is happy to provide a nutritional assessment and will work closely with you to develop a diet and exercise plan that meets that needs of both you and your pet.