Preventing obesity in your dog or cat

Obesity is at an all time high in the United States today. According to the 2013 American Heart Association statistics, 154.7 million adults (20 years and older) and 23.9 million children (2-19 years old) are overweight or obese. In an effort to lower these numbers, we are told to exercise, eat more greens, and limit our intake of processed foods. Unfortunately, with fast food restaurants around every corner it can be difficult to make good choices. Just as we struggle with our weight, our animal companions do as well.

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention(APOP) conducts a study annually gathering information from participating veterinary clinics. In 2012, the study reported that 52.5% of dogs and 59.3% of cats were overweight or obese. The APOP estimated that 80 million animal companions in the United States are overweight or obese. It is up to us, as their owners, to keep our pets fit and in good health.

There are so many pet food brands, which one is the best for my pet? When selecting what food is best for your pet, look at the nutrition labels. Depending on the age of your pet, they may require more protein in their diet. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) recommends minimum levels of protein and fat for canines and felines depending on the stage of life your pet is in.

Growth & Reproduction Adult Maintenance
Minimum Minimum
Protein 22% 18%
Fat 8% 5%
Protein 30% 26%
Fat 9% 9%

There is no specific data stating the long-term effects of too much protein or fat; however, it is recommended to stay close to the above percentages of protein and fat content. Look for dog and cat food labeled “complete and balanced”. This means that the food meets the standards established by the AAFCO.

A big mistake that a lot of owners make, including myself, is overfeeding their animal companions. It is very important to read the serving size on the label and give the proper amount. If you put too much food in front of your pet they will most likely eat it all. Just like us, they will continue to eat even though they are full.

Exercise is a key component to weight loss. It can be difficult with older pets and especially cats who just want to lounge around but it is vital to their health and wellbeing. An interactive toy such as the FroliCat Bolt Interactive Laser Toy is a great way for cats to be entertained while getting exercise at the same time.

Before beginning your pet on a diet regimen, consult with your veterinarian.