Sunday, November 19, 2017
Tags Posts tagged with "Obesity"

Obesity

I have slowly created a dog monster: a food beggar.

Once upon a time, Joey would sit beside my chair when I was at the dinner table and stare at me. Just that intense, silent penetrating stare. I could ignore that.

But then alone at home over lunch, I’d be seduced into giving him a little scrap or two from my sandwich. At Starbucks, a crew of friendly utility workers made friends with Joey and started giving him a bit of their breakfast — and Joey’s table manners were lost in the dust.

Now he barks for treats from any one sitting at a table. Once he even goosed a Starbucks barista sitting with her friends talking during break, just to let her know that he was there and feeling peckish.

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Two out of every three Americans — 190 million of us — are overweight or obese, according to CBS News. And it appears that we’re overfeeding our pets as well.

According to a national survey of veterinarians by the Association for the Prevention of Pet Obesity, 45% of dogs and 58% of cats are overweight.

Most owners appear to be in denial.  A 2006 study by Pfizer Animal Health showed that vets felt that while 47% of vets felt their canine patients were obese, only 17% of those dogs owners did.

What’s the harm in giving Spot or Felix a little extra treat for being so adorable?

Plenty, according to the experts. VPI, a leading provider of pet insurance, reported that in 2009, its policy holders filed more than $17 million in claims for conditions and diseases that can be caused by being overweight. Just as it does in humans, extra weight means a higher risk of joint problems, heart problems, diabetes, certain cancers and a shorter life span.

How do you know if your dog is overweight?

Here are two simple tests:

  • When you touch your dog’s sides, can you feel his ribs without pressing?
  • When you look down on your dog from above his body, can you see a noticeable waist between his ribs and hips?

If the answer to either question is no, your dog is likely to be overweight.

The culprit, say many vets, are nutritionally unbalanced diets, overfeeding, too many treats and too little exercise.

Getting your pet back to a normal weight

Getting an overweight pet back to a normal weight isn’t Mission Impossible. Here are some suggestions:

  • Get the facts and monitor your pet’s progress. Nulo’s resource center offers a pet weight tracker, a fitness log for recording minutes spent playing, walking or running agility courses and a meal planner that helps you determine how much food to give your pet. The site also offers a library and a Fitness Center with articles ranging from dog sledding to dancing with your dog.
  • When selecting food to feed your dog, read the package labels.  Meat should be listed as the first ingredient.  Select ingredients like barley and vegetables over corn- and wheat-based ingredients.
  • Read the recommended portion sizes and measure out the food until proper portion sizes become engrained.  It’s easy to get in the habit of quickly scooping food out not paying attention to how much food your pet really needs.
  • Hit the streets.  My internist rolls his eyes when I tell him that my exercise these days is walking the dog.  While it’s true that sauntering with a sniffing dog isn’t aerobic, that doesn’t have to be the case.  Allow time for necessary business, but do some speed walking or jogging as well.
  • Make it fun. The DogTread Super Bowl Game Day Walk Event is intended to get people and their dogs out walking for at least 30 minutes on Super Bowl Day. If you go to DogTread’s Facebook book page and click “Like” and follow it up to a post when you’ve done your Super Bowl dog walk, you’ll get a free copy of the “5K Training Guide/Running with Dogs.” 
  • Use your dog’s regular kibble in place of treats.  Measure out the day’s portion and dole out the measure portion as training rewards or treats.
  • Play more. Your dog will love you.  Any activity from chasing a ball, catching a Frisbee, going to a dog park or hiking will help your pet burn calories.

If you’re still not convinced you should take steps to keep your dog trim, think about this: In 2002, the Guinness Book of World Records eliminated its fattest cat and fattest dog categories because of the health hazards to the animals.

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