fat catUSA Today reported that over 25% of dogs and cats in the Western world, including the USA, are obese. Obesity in pets have been found to occur in countries where obesity in humans is also prevalent. Researchers believe that this is due to the owners’ lifestyle rather than overfeeding.

What causes obesity in pets?

Some researchers believe that obesity might have something to do with your training. Rewarding your pets food when they successfully obeyed your command or learned a trick can lead to obesity. Also it can be the result of feeding your pets food from the table consisting of scraps or fast-food fare which are high in fats.

Obesity in pets can also be the result of unmeasured feeding during meals. You might not be aware of it, but you could already be overfeeding your pet. It is always wise to check feeding instructions on pet food packages instead of just dumping food on your pet’s bowl.

How to spot if your pet is obese?

To check if your pet dog is over weight, feel its belly. If you can’t feel the ribs, your pet dog is too fat. For cats, if the face and belly look fat and the legs look stubby or short for it, then it is probably obese.

What are the risks for obese pets?

Obese cats and dogs generally suffer from the same things obese humans suffer from: diabetes, heart disease and other ailments such as joint ills. Some of these ailments can lead to premature death.

How can you help your obese pets?

First, check with your vet. Some diseases can cause weight gain. This should be cured first before putting your pet through a work-out regimen or on a strict diet. Also check with your vet if your pet already has some kind of heart disease before putting it through an exercise program. Control your pets eating habits. It is good for your pets to have a set time for feeding.

Twice a day is acceptable. Feed your pets the right amount of serving of pet foods as instructed in the packaging. Make sure that table food are not part of their diet and treats should be healthy foods that are high fiber and low in calories. It is also wise to consider low-calorie pet foods as substitute for regular pet foods. And a bit of exercise won’t hurt.

You can also check out these tips from The National Academy of Sciences on how to keep your pets healthy:

  • Active dogs that weigh 35 pounds should consume about 1,000 kilocalories (units typically found on pet-food labels) per day.
  • Cats that weigh 10 pounds should eat about 275 kilocalories.
  • Dogs are descended from omnivores and can thrive on both meat- and vegetable-based diets.
  • Cats are descended from carnivores and do not do well on a vegetarian diet.
  • Both dogs and cats need fresh water every day, but cats need less.