Quick Way to Tell If Your Pet Is Too FatWe dearly love our furry friends, but too often we show them our love with food--too much of it. And they're turning into porky pets.
"Just as obesity has become a serious problem in people, it's also a growing problem in pets, one that can seriously harm your pet's health," says Carmela Stamper, a veterinarian in the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
According to a recent survey by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, an estimated 58 percent of cats and 54 percent of dogs in the United States are overweight.
"The diseases we see in our overweight pets are strikingly similar to those seen in overweight people," Stamper says, naming as examples diabetes mellitus (also known as type 2 diabetes, in which the body does not use insulin properly), osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, heart and respiratory disease and kidney disease.
"We want our pets to live happy lives, but we also want them to live long ones," Stamper says. Obesity in your pet can significantly shorten the animal's life span.
How can you tell if your pet is TOO fat? In pets, 20 percent over ideal body weight is considered obese.
But the ideal weight is relative, depending on the animal's breed, age, body type and metabolism.
"In dogs, some breeds seem more inclined toward obesity than others," Stamper notes. Labs and beagles are two examples, as well as long, low dogs such as dachshunds and basset hounds. In contrast, while veterinarians are reporting more overweight and obese felines, no one specific cat breed is prone to obesity.
Neutering can slow down a dog or cat's metabolism and so can aging, especially if the animal gets less exercise than when younger. It is important to talk to your veterinarian about how much food your dog or cat should be eating.
Here are some basic signs to help you determine whether or not your pet is at a healthy weight:
The real expert on the ideal weight for your animal is your vet, who marks changes over time in a way that you--who sees your animal every day--may not.
But do remember this, especially when those sweet puppy eyes are staring up at you: All things in moderation, Stamper says. For most animals, the occasional treat is just fine.