As Americans struggle with obesity, so do our pets.
“Pets are overeating and underexercising, and they’re eating too many high-fat foods and treats,” says Susan Nelson, DVM, an assistant professor of clinical sciences at the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine.
To determine whether your pet is too heavy or light, consider Dr. Nelson’s guidelines:
- You shouldn’t be able to see your pet’s ribs, but you should be able to feel them easily, with a thin layer of fat over them.
- When you look at your pet from the side, its tummy should tuck up at the flank area and not hang in a straight line.
- If you look at your dog from above, you should see an hourglass shape: broad at the shoulders, narrow at the waist and broader at the hips.
- If your dog starts to get heavy, cut back on calories and arrange more exercise time.
Work with your family to avoid sabotaging your pet’s diet with treats and table scraps. These hidden calories can be the main contributor to obesity, says Dr. Nelson, who specializes in preventive care, senior wellness and puppy/kitten wellness.
“Sometimes, you’ll try to put your pet on a diet, and then someone else living in the house will slip it treats,” she says. “You should talk with the whole family when putting your pet on a diet. Tell them the diet is necessary to keep the pet at a good weight, which in turn will make it healthier and can help it live a longer life.”
And if you have a small child who drops food (or deviously gets rid of broccoli via canine) at the dinner table, these calories will add up, too.
Tune in tomorrow for the conclusion of this article.
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