Jan. 1, and it's that time of year again. After weekends of Christmas cookies, alcoholic beverages, appetizers galore, ham and scalloped potatoes, those dreaded pounds have packed on. For many of us, it's time to start our New Year's resolution, losing all that weight! Believe it or not, our pets have done the same thing over the past few months; they have gained the weight right along with us!
Obesity is not only an epidemic in people but their pets as well. According to the CDC, the obesity prevalence in adults is approximately 33 percent and this is on the rise. According to the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) the prevalence is the same in our pets and is also on the rise. Too many table snacks, lack of exercise, and genetics all play a factor in the prevalence of obesity. Obesity in pets can put stress on your pets' joints, leading to an earlier onset of osteoarthritis. It can also predispose your pet to diabetes, heart disease, respiratory issues, urinary tract issues, and high blood pressure. In cats, obesity can also lead to a condition called hepatic lipidosis or "fatty liver" a severe life threatening disease.
So how do you get your pet to lose weight?
1. Reducing caloric intake. This requires a lower fat, lower calorie diet and limiting how much of that diet is given. No more 'free choice' feedings, pets can adjust to a twice daily feeding schedule. No more treats, snacks, table scraps, or leftovers. These can add up quickly in calories. Over the counter weight loss diets are helpful, but in some cases a prescription diet high in fiber, low in fat, and low in calories is needed to get your pet started on a weight loss plan.
2. Increase caloric use. This requires exercising your pet whether it is a cat or dog. Take your dog for a daily 1/2 hour walk, throw the ball for them, play Frisbee or tug of war, take your dog swimming. For cats, use toys to play with them, use a laser pointer to entice their curiosity. For the more sedentary cats place their "daily" allotment of food in various bowls around the house. Make them work for their food. Use stairs to your advantage. Place food and water upstairs, and their litter pans downstairs. Any small amount of exercise will help!
3. Rule out underlying medical issues. If you are having difficulty getting your dog to lose weight, they may have an underlying medical condition called hypothyroidism. Talk to your veterinarian about ruling this out with a simple blood test.
The Dunkirk Animal Clinic would like to help you get your pet started on a weight loss plan today! We are offering 10 percent off all our weight loss prescription foods and will help you come up with a weight loss plan that best suits your pet. We are also doing a Biggest Loser Contest for the month of January. Enter your pet today and win great prizes for the most percentage weight lost! Call us at 366-7440 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Rebekah R. Frost is an OBSERVER columnist. Send comments on this column to email@example.com