INCREASING PET LONGEVITY
Overweight pets have shorter lives compared to their slimmer counterparts. Obesity can trim 2.5 years off a pet's lifespan—a substantial reduction given the already limited years they have.
IT IS NOT JUST ABOUT LIFESPAN
OBESITY SIGNIFICANTLY IMPACTS THEIR OVERALL WELL BEING!
The most common obesity-related health conditions in dogs and cats are:
This list is by no means exhaustive. At the end of the day, an obese pet is not a happy pet and impacts the quality of your years shared together.
For pet owners aiming to extend their time with their beloved companions, the solution is evident: maintain a healthy weight for your pets. Failing to do so could lead to premature farewells.
SOME TIPS ON MAINTAINING A HEALTHY WEIGHT
Every dog and cat are different. The differences in breed, age, genetics, and lifestyle play a significant role in determining how much we should be feeding daily. A 75lb Labrador retriever who lazes around all day is not going to be fed the same amount as a 75lb German Short Hair Pointer that works and hunts and tracks. Two different breeds. Two different lifestyles. Two different activity levels. The two burn kCals at different rates. The two need to be fed different amounts.
Pet food packaging feeding guidelines are very general and do not consider the different factors that contribute to burning kCals.
There are so many variables that play a role in our pet’s metabolic rate. Much of this has to do with breed, age, lifestyle(exercise) and the types of food and mixtures of proteins being fed. So, the best way to get to an appropriate feeding amount is to pay attention to body shape. Check out the Body Condition Score Charts to assess where your dog or cat is.
This score is a visual/feel check of your pet’s body. The charts can give you an idea of where your cat or dog’s body shape lies and what to look and feel for to assess body weight.
Some breeds need to be fed different amounts, depending on time of year. As an example, Eddie a Bernese Mountain Dog is fed one amount during the cooler and winter months but less during the warmer and summer months. Other customers of ours feed more in the summer when their pets are much more active with more walks and hikes than in the winter months. Then there are some where it makes no difference and maintain their body shape consistently throughout the course of a year without ever having to change the amount they feed.
As our pets age and move from adults to seniors and geriatrics, your pet’s need for the same kCalories may start to decrease. Our ageing pets, for the most part, become less active, sleep more often, and do not need as much as they did when they were younger. Maintaining a healthy body shape in an ageing pet, it will be important to make some adjustments in the amount we feed each day.
I cannot stress enough, feeding to body shape is crucial. Most dogs and some cats will make you feel that you are not feeding them enough. It is important to not let your pet dictate how much to feed. This is for the most part a behavioural issue and can be easily managed by not giving in.
Most pet owners love to offer treats or raw bones and chews. Each of these can be a contributor to your pets’ kCal intake if not offered in appropriate amounts. We have found that too many treats (and treats that have poor ingredients i.e., high in carbs) can be a factor in trying to reduce weight or maintaining proper body shape. Depending on how much and what is being offered as a chew or treat, you might have to make an adjustment to either the amount of food being offered, or the treats and chews being consumed.
When our pets come into our lives, we become fully responsible for their overall well being. In return for the unconditional love we receive, we want to make sure we can do everything possible to give our pets a long and happy life.
We cannot control, for the most part, genetics. We get what we get.
We can control what and how much we feed, exercise, vaccinations, neutering and spaying decisions, the use of anti-biotics and NSAID’s and the environment (inside and outside) that our pets spend most of their time in.
Maintaining a healthy weight is, in my opinion, the most important thing we can do as pet owners.
The Proof is in the Poop!