Recently, a new survey of around 3 million dogs and cats in America was published which found that 30% of the surveyed population was overweight. As in humans, being overweight can cause a litany of health problems which only increase the longer a person or pet stays overweight. As the report states, over 20 different diseases and health conditions in pets have been directly linked to being overweight; many of these diseases can be life threatening. Weight—as I discuss in my forthcoming book on nutrition in animals—is a key component of health.
In other words, this isn’t really about how your animal looks, it’s about their long term health and vitality. The study also details how an overweight pet affects its parents’ wallets: overweight dogs tend to cost 17% more than healthy dogs, and parents of overweight cats are shelling out 36% more for diagnostic procedures than their healthy counterparts.
Exercise and diet are two of the primary factors which contribute to overweight pets, but the good news is that exercise and diet are very much in parents’ control. This is one of the many reasons that proper nutrition is so important for our animals: overfeeding or feeding low quality foods can directly contribute to health problems down the line. In the first 5 chapters of my book I will discuss nutrition in general and how to feed your pet a diet that will facilitate their wellbeing. Later in the book, I have specific chapters dedicated to an integrative approach to treating maladies which often arise as side effects of an unbalanced diet—chiefly, Degenerative Joint Disease (or Arthritis) and Diabetes (please note, however, that the inflammation which results from obesity can contribute to the development of many other diseases such as skin problems and Gastrointestinal issues).
As always, your pet’s weight is something you should absolutely consult with your veterinarian about. Age, breed, and other health conditions are huge factors when it comes to determining a pet’s nutritional needs, and the complexity of these factors dictates that you should consult an expert for the best results. Additionally, if you are looking for ideas for healthy, home-cooked meals for your cat or dog, my forthcoming book will contain 50 amazing recipes for your pets (25 for dogs and 25 for cats). Some of these recipes are even designed specifically for diabetic animals or pets suffering from Degenerative Joint Disease! For example, for Diabetic cats there are recipes for Turkey and Lentils and Sardines and Rice; for dogs, I suggest our Chicken and Whole Wheat Pasta recipe.
The study that this articles references was conducted by Banfield Pet Hospitals and released in June of 2017.