It’s not just our expanding waistlines that we should be worried about. Data from Nationwide’s pet insurance division indicates that obesity continues to be a major health issue in our pets.
Of the 1.4 million pet insurance claims made in 2016, 20 percent were for conditions and diseases related to pet obesity, which amounted to $62 million in veterinary expenses. The number of these claims has continued to rise for the past seven years.
Illnesses and conditions include treatments for arthritis aggravated by excessive weight on the joints, diabetes, bladder and urinary tract disease, liver disease, low thyroid, torn knee ligaments, chronic kidney disease, asthma, spine problems, high blood pressure, gall bladder disease and heart failure.
Here are some tips for keep your pet’s weight down.
- Avoid feeding your pet table scraps.
- Keep a consistent diet by monitoring the amount of food you give your pet.
- Regulate the amount of treats you give your pet.
- Establish a healthy and fun exercise schedule.
- Consult your veterinarian to best determine your pet’s weight loss protocol.
We also can merge our weight loss goals with our pet’s by incorporating exercises we both can do. The simplest are running or biking together, but you’ll need to do a few things before starting.
First, make sure you and your pet are both healthy for these types of exercises. Dogs that have flat faces usually aren’t good candidates for running. They have obstructed breathing and will tire quickly.
If you want to have your dog run alongside you while you bike, be sure to outfit your bike with a special harness that will keep your dog away from the wheels. Don’t hold a leash — it is too easy for the dog and you to get tangled up in it. Plus the dog can pull you off balance.
Not all dogs are built for biking, and whether you are running, jogging, biking or just walking, keep an eye on your dog to make certain he or she is able to keep up. Our dogs will run their hearts out for us, but they shouldn’t have to.
Playing in the house or backyard will provide your pet with lots of exercise. Cats love to stalk and chase balls, toy mice and the beam of a laser pointer. Fetching games for dogs are excellent forms of exercise, but instead of standing or sitting in one spot, join in and get some exercise yourself.
Keep in mind that strenuous exercise can cause inflammation and damage to already troubled joints, so start out slow and don’t over do it.
Look for ways to involve your pet in more activity, whether it’s increasing the number of walks you take each day, or creating play areas in your home. Look for toys that will encourage your pets to play on their own and burn a few calories with activities.
Treats contribute substantially to pet obesity. We tend to think of them as reward without regard to fat content and calories. Look for healthful alternatives including substituting fruits and vegetables or cooked, lean meats. It might not seem like a lot of calories to us, but they add up, especially in smaller pets.
Are fat cats and doughy dogs suffering greater health issues?