Keeping Pets at a Healthy Weight
A cute cat named Cinderblock recently went viral for her workout routine. The morbidly obese feline hesitantly walks on a small treadmill while mewing pitifully. However, while Cinderblock is adorable, she also brings awareness to the rising epidemic of pet obesity.
Obesity in pets is a common issue—59.5% of cats and 55.8% of dogs are classified as overweight or obese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP). Pets that are overweight can suffer from health issues and a shortened lifespan—for example, Cinderblock’s arthritis is exacerbated by her extra pounds and the treadmill she is uses is submerged in a few inches of water to make it easier for her to move.
Pet parents may also find it more difficult to care for overweight animals. Cinderblock was relinquished by her owners because they couldn’t manage her anymore. Her care and treatment have been taken over by the hospital where she was meant to be euthanized.
Though Cinderblock’s story is extreme, it sheds light on how important it is to keep pets healthy. With the approaching winter months, it will become harder for pets to lose weight as outdoor walks and exercise become less frequent. However, pet parents can use specific tactics to help their pets stay trim.
When it comes to food, pet parents should research what the correct portion is for their animal companions. Meal sizes should be based on a pet’s breed and species to ensure it isn’t being overfed. Pets should also consume foods that are appropriate for them—not human snacks like pizza or ice cream.
The number of treats given should also be a consideration as they can contain sugar and fat. While there are low-calorie treats available, pet parents can also break up treats to be given throughout the day. Pets are still being rewarded the same number of times, but are receiving a smaller, less fattening portion.
Pet parents can also use dietary aids such as an omega-3 fatty acid supplement. In addition to preventing diseases, this antioxidant can help achy joints and encourage weight loss. Most importantly, despite the cold weather, pet parents should do their best to get their animal to exercise, even if they don’t have an underwater treadmill like Cinderblock.