In 2018, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention conducted a study finding 60% percent of cats and 56% of dogs — approximately 93 million pets — in the U.S. are overweight. This startling trend affects the quality of life of our pets, their health and even the health of their owners.
Nutrition is the single biggest factor in controlling obesity in both pets and humans. Additional results from the above APOP survey showed that among veterinary professionals, 70% do not believe grain-free diets are healthy for dogs and cats.
In the APOP 2018 clinical survey, 55.8% of dogs and 59.5% of cats were classified as clinically overweight (Body Condition Score (BCS) 6-7) or obese (BCS 8-9) by their veterinary healthcare professional. That equals an estimated 50 million dogs and 56 million cats are too heavy, based on 2018-19 pet population projections provided by the American Pet Products Association (APPA).
How can you take this information and improve the health of your pet? Here are some practical tips to help manage the weight of your cat or dog:
- Measure (Weight) – “You cannot manage what you cannot measure.” Until you know the starting point, it is impossible to track progress. If your dog or cat won’t stay on the scale alone, hold them and step – then subtract your weight. Do this every week and keep a log. Weight loss should be slow and consistent.
- Measure (Food) – Portion the food that is given to your dog or cat. If you do not plan on monitoring their every meal, make sure they are restricted to the food you are leaving in their bowls.
- Ditch Treats – Additional calorie dense treats will sabotage any diets – human or pet. Keep in mind that the average adult human can become overweight by adding 2 slices per bread per day on top of their normal diet.
- Join Them – Dogs and cats are excellent companions, why not make them your weight loss partner by recording your progress together. According to APOP, pet owners with a healthier weight are far more likely to have healthier dogs and cats.
- Photos – Before and after transformation photos aren’t just for reality television contestants. Take photos of your pet each week to track their progress.
Your pet deserves to live a longer, healthier and happier life and you can give it to them by following even just a few of these steps.