By Katy Cable-TWR
A 3 min. Read
What do you think is the number one New Year’s Resolution? If you guessed: Lose Weight/Get in Shape, you’re right! This is great news considering Americans are plagued by a growing epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and a host of other health issues related to lousy diets and not enough exercise. And, what’s worse, our pets have followed suit! Therefore this might be a great resolution for them as well.
Did you know the number one, single most important thing you can do to add years and quality to your pet’s life is: keep them from becoming overweight. What and how much you feed your precious fur-baby is the number one component for all aspects of your dog’s health, longevity and quality of life. The good news is with just a little will power on your part it can be done quite easily. Keep in mind, YOU’RE in control of the bowl and what goes into your dog’s body is 100% your responsibility.
I’m not trying to be judgmental or fat shame anyone’s pup, since I too had no idea of the severity of a few extra “dog pounds!” When our family first went looking for a Pug to adopt, I gravitated towards all the gi-normous ones. I found the portly Pugs cuter and more cuddly (maybe because they couldn’t move) and that they were the true standard of the breed. I had no idea a huffing, puffing, fur baby with their belly dragging on the ground and no visible waistline was morbidly obese. Thankfully we ended up with a lean, active, healthy Pug and a valuable lesson in pet nutrition.
The next eye-opener was how food-obsessed Pugs can be. They will literally eat themselves to DEATH if given the chance. I saw our first Pug Raisin, jump 3 feet onto a table, tear open and devour the contents of a raffle gift basket including a TIN of Almond Roca in less time than it took me to slide on a pair of Crocs. Mission projects made of sugar cubes, holiday gingerbread houses, -Gone in less than 60 seconds. Nothing excites or motivates a Pug more than food.
Most dogs (excluding Labs 😜) are not this obsessed but it’s still very difficult to resist the longing gaze of a food-loving dog. I will admit, when my darling Pug Olive tips her head and pants longingly, I ALWAYS give her a small bite of any human food that isn’t harmful. However, I weigh my Pugs, and keep them fit, lean and trim. If the harness gets a bit snug or too loose, I adjust the portions and “small bites” accordingly. And, if they’re battling a health issue or illness, I’m extra diligent about nutrition.
Why the big deal? Here’s the “skinny” on this issue: Dogs and cats are much smaller than adult humans. Excess weight on a smaller body has more significant, and immediate consequences than added weight on a bigger body. And when you factor in the short lifespan of the average dog or cat, it gets even shorter if that pet is overweight. Plus, the quality of their life will not be optimal as they develop the inevitable diseases that come with obesity.
Believe it or not, dogs that are even A FEW pounds over their ideal weight are prone to FAR more arthritis, hip, vertebrae and mobility issues. Also cancers, and diabetes. Diabetes can lead to blindness and any issue negatively affecting mobility robs a dog of a big chunk of their quality of life. Tragically, it is often why many pets must be euthanized.
If health issues alone weren’t bad enough, there’s also the expensive vet bills. According to Embrace, a pet insurance carrier, the average annual cost of vet care for a diabetic dog or cat is over $1,200. In the last year alone, insurance claims for pets with diabetes increased over 250 percent. Embrace, confirms orthopedic conditions are occurring in younger pets — and with greater severity, typically because so many animals are overweight.
And it’s certainly not just one pet insurance company that’s concerned. “Seeing animals suffering from health conditions secondary to their obesity is a common situation,” according to Crystal Sheran, DVM for Banfield Pet Hospital.
So, if your pet is overweight, hopefully you are now convinced it’s a big deal and you’re willing to “deal with the problem-before it’s too late!” Here are a few common sense tips to help you get started:
- Feed a species-appropriate, balanced diet to your pet. Regardless of their weight, your dog still needs the right nutrition, which means food that is high in animal protein and moisture, with low CARBS! Don’t just cut out those grains, but look at the amount of potatoes, corn, rice, etc. Look for moisture rich foods containing animal based proteins as the first 2–3 ingredients. (*check my You Tube videos and blogs to de-code pet food labels and how to select premium foods.)
- Practice portion control, which typically means two, carefully measured, meals. Although leading pet nutrition researchers are finding feeding just one meal in the morning is optimum for health. A high animal protein, low-carb diet with the right amount of calories for weight loss, controlled through the portions you feed, is what will take the weight off your dog. And don’t forget to factor in calories from treats. -I would stay clear of treats altogether unless it’s a small bite or two of a lean protein.
- Regularly exercise your pet. An overweight body gets back in shape by taking in fewer calories and expending more energy. Daily exercise, including at least 20 minutes of consistent aerobic activity, will help your pet burn fat and increase muscle tone. It will also make you both feel better. Be careful to start at a slower pace for out-of-shape, older dogs and gradually increase the duration and intensity. For less mobile dogs start with slow walks and a game of fetch.
I guarantee by practicing these simple nutrition steps you will have a dog that looks AND feels much better! And you’ll spend much less $$$ at the vet’s. Nutrition, love and exercise are the most important ingredients to optimum health and happiness. Best of all you will enjoy more quality time with your best friend. Happy New Year! Pugs and Kisses!
🐾Katy Cable is a former actress appearing in “Back To The Future” and starring in the TV series: “Safe At Home” & “ Fired Up!” In addition to her dog health & lifestyle blog/vlog: The Weekly Runt, (https://www.weeklyrunt.com/) she’s a contributing writer to numerous publications including Thrive Global, & The Huffington Post. Cable lives at the beach with her husband, Rick and her rescue Pug, Olive.🐾
Originally published at https://www.weeklyrunt.com.