We’re not in the business of fat-shaming our pooches. After all, a little potbelly on a hound is cuddly and adorable, right? Well, turns out it could be dangerous, too. According to vets, dog obesity is not only a real disease, it’s on the rise. And it puts your furry best friend at risk for all the same kinds of lifestyle diseases humans get. Yikes!
SA’s Biggest Pet Health Crisis
Sure, you love your dog and you want to spoil her with treats. And leftovers. And any bit of food that happened to fall on the floor. But just like mindless snacking is a bad idea for you, it’s a bad idea for your furry friend too. And it’s not just dogs – cats are equally at risk. “SA vets say more than half the patients they treat are overweight,” says Dr. Guy Fyvie, nutritional advisor at Hill’s Pet Nutrition South Africa. “Obesity is the number one health problem faced by pets today.”
You can do it, Fluffy!
The Fat Gap
The problem is, even if your Bostie’s walk has turned into more of a waddle, you probably don’t think of her as chunky, so much as cuddly. “Love is blind and most of the time pet parents are completely oblivious to the fact that their pets are overweight, something that the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention refers to as the ‘fat gap’,” says Fyvie. Even if you do notice that her belly is looking rounder when she rolls over for tummy rubs, what cold-hearted fur mom puts her dog on a diet?
Sadly, Research published in the State of Pet Health Report 2018 by Banfield Pet Hospital shows that overweight pets have shorter lives and are at higher risk of arthritis, urinary conditions, skin problems, heart disease and even cancer. Keeping your dog at a healthy weight may also delay the onset of several chronic diseases.
In It Together
The best way to keep your dog lean and healthy? Follow the same advice you’d use for yourself, says Fyvie – eat a nutritious, portion-controlled diet and get plenty of exercise. A daily walk is great exercise for both you and your dog. Include a variety of terrains and surfaces to recruit different muscle groups. If your dog likes playing with a ball, make a game of catch part of your daily post-work routine. Cat person? Uses boxes of different sizes to build an obstacle course your cat will love exploring.
You call that gym thing a box jump, Mommy? This is a box jump.