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5 Tips to Keep Your Pet Fit

FOUR PAWS advises on diet and exercises to help cure or avoid obesity in pets


BOSTON, MA JANUARY 26 2017 – Obesity is a serious condition, not only in humans but also in animals. The negative impact of obesity on the health of an animal reduces both the quality and duration of its life.


Experts estimate that approximately 50% of companion animals kept in Western countries are overweight*. The main factor is an inappropriate diet given to pets by their owners. Pets often consume significantly more calories than they expend, usually due to the high-calorific nature of some pet foods.


Sarah Ross, lead expert for the FOUR PAWS Companion Animals Program explained: "Dry food contains nutrients in concentrated form; a small portion is usually sufficient for a dog or a cat. Often, [large] portion sizes can lead to an animal becoming obese, particularly if it does not receive sufficient exercise.”


According to the FOUR PAWS, it is also important to consider the cumulative effect of “treats,” as these may provide a significant source of calories on their own, which can lead to an animal becoming overweight.


Other important factors leading to obesity include a lack of physical exercise, a lack of agility in older animals, and/or a genetic pre-disposition towards obesity in certain breeds. If an owner can’t feel their pet’s ribs under the layer of fat or is unable to see the waist of their pet, then it is imperative that action is taken. At this point, it is likely that the animal is overweight, which could cause numerous negative health effects such as shortness of breath, joint and cardiovascular problems, and even diabetes.


To help owners avoid this scenario, FOUR PAWS advises pet owners to follow these 5 easy tips to keep their pet healthy: 


1. Talk to your veterinarian about your pets’ weight. A good indicator of obesity is if you cannot feel each rib bone individually when you push gently on its side. Generally, however, your veterinarian will know. Other resources are available online to find out your cat or dog’s goal weight based on breed or size.  


2. Diet; Just like humans, the food our pets eat fuel their energy levels. Some foods can be too high in calories and can outweigh the energy they burn throughout the day. After consultation with your vet and finding your pet’s optimal caloric intake, make sensible adjustments to the pet’s diet such as decreasing quantity of food gradually throughout the course of a few months. Track those Treats! Cat and dog treats are another major cause of obesity. Cut back on calorie rich dog and cat treats and only use them on special occasions or for training and obedience.


3. Exercise; Walk or run your dog more often, visit dog parks or make time for high energy games during the day (Hint: Specific dog breeds have different exercise preferences: Retrievers generally love to play fetch while collie’s may enjoy playing with or herding other dogs. Do some research on your own breed and find out exactly what they were breed for. An added bonus is that once a hyperactive dog gets routine exercise, a lot of the destructive or “bad” behaviour may disappear).


4. Socialization; Very commonly linked to physical health is the cat or dogs emotional and psychological health. Especially for dogs, socialising with others can emphasize play and a more youthful energy level.  Play active games with your pet or set up play dates with other dogs


5. Stimulation; While you may go to work all day, your dog or cat most often sleeps most of the day. When possible, stimulation in the form of games and puzzles could help your cat or dog be more active.


Obesity is a problem, but it can be overcome. With the correct diet and exercise regime, pets can live long and active lives.



*According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, in 2015, an estimated 53.8% of US dogs were overweight or obese. An estimated 58.2% of US cats were overweight or obese.