Baby Got Back FAT

Dear Davi,
I love me some kibble, but my human says I’m getting a little thick around my rolls. What are the risks of being overweight?
Perry the Pug
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Perry,

More than half the pets in America are overweight or obese.  Yes, this is an unfortunate truth about cats and dogs today—flabby felines and portly pups are the new normal.

The good news? You aren’t going to be bullied or fat-shamed for being a little chubby around the collar, but you do need to check yourself before you wreck yourself. Pet obesity can lead to arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, respiratory problems and skin and fur conditions. It can also decrease your life expectancy by up to three years—yikes!

Weight loss isn’t nearly as traumatic an experience for pets as it is for humans. We generally love to run and play, but it still takes some persistence, and a whole lot of resistance, to shed those extra pounds.

The reasons pets become obese are the same as those for humans; they eat too much and exercise too little. The only difference is that we cannot control our portions; if humans offer treats, we’ll eat them. And we can’t run in the park by ourselves—leash laws restrict us from running at large. It’s vital for our humans take responsibility. Obesity is entirely preventable through proper nutrition and exercise.

Introducing more exercise into your daily routine will not only help you lose weight, it’ll keep your mind active. Aim for 15 minutes of strenuous activity twice a day. That doesn’t mean enrolling in a fancy canine aerobics class, though they do exist. Getting in shape can be as simple as picking up the pace on your daily walks.

The next step to combat obesity is to count calories. Keeping track of your meals and treats can give you a better picture of the calories as they add up. Try swapping healthier snacks for those fatty treats; better yet, opt for fun, not food, and know your calorie count—mine is 317 calories a day! And when it comes to pet food, weigh your options and select foods that are nutritious and delicious.

Figuring out your ideal weight can be tricky because each of us is unique. As a general rule of paw, you should have a tucked tummy with ribs that can be felt though not seen. If you can’t see your waist, and if your back is broad and flat, it may be time to cut calories and create an exercise plan—simply put, eat less, move more.

Right now, more than half of all cats and dogs in the U.S. are overweight. Putting a pudgy pup or fat cat on a diet can be a challenge, but it’s worth the effort. Pets who maintain a healthy weight have a higher quality of life and, often, lower vet bills. The trick is keeping your paws on the pavement and out of the treat jar.
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Davi the dachshund can’t get enough yummies in his tummy, but he uses that fuel to be a one-pup love machine.

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