It’s one of the more common talks I have to have. A recent study suggests more than half of pet dogs and cats in America are overweight. And why not? After all, the thing many of our pets love the most is feeding them or treating them. But I’m here to stand on the soapbox for a minute and say - food does not equal love.
Overweight and obesity in pets are associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disease (read PAIN), and endocrine and other metabolic problems. These can require long term treatment and monitoring and be hard on body systems! Many of the recommendations on bags of dog food recommend a daily ration that is too high. In addition, spaying and neutering does reduce overall energy requirement in a way that often requires a dietary adjustment. In short, overweight/obesity is a common but preventable disease that can cause or worsen many other problems for your pet.
So, more food does not equal more love. Ask your veterinarian about your dog or cat’s weight (and if it’s appropriate). Look at a chart for body condition scoring, which in my opinion is the best way to assess whether a pet is overweight or not.
I can’t stress enough how important this is as a part of overall wellness for our pets. Feeding them caloric excess because they like it can literally feed them to death if we aren’t careful! And I know we can find other (healthier) activities they love, like walks, play, the park, etc. As it turns out, some of these things are good for us too.