Category Archives: obesity in pets

Animal Obesity Clinics: Reasonable or Ridiculous?

By Langley Cornwell

Some time ago I had an active and rambunctious black Labrador retriever. Even though she was very food oriented, I was able to keep her at a healthy weight because of all the exercise she did. Then she had a small surgery and gained weight during recovery. It was my fault. Even though her energy expenditure was less than half of what it used to be, I continued to feed her the same amount of dog food. Not smart. So I reduced the quantity of her food and she got back down to a healthy weight range. Although that simple formula worked for us, I still see lots of overweight pets. Even so, I was surprised to read about animal obesity clinics.  

It’s not only humans that are fighting obesity. More and more dogs and cats seem to be battling the bulge and, just like humans, the complications of obesity in pets can be serious. But does that mean you need to take your pet to an obesity clinic? Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University seems to think so. With their opening of the first animal obesity clinic in the country, the school hopes to help pet owners tackle obesity issues that may be plaguing their pets. Let’s take a closer look at the situation to help us determine whether or not an animal obesity clinic is really necessary.

The American Pet Obesity Problem

We’ve all seen the occasional cat or dog that’s so large he has to drag his oversized belly around, but other dogs and cats that don’t seem so big may also be classified as overweight. Recent studies actually show that over half of the dogs and cats in America are obese. Your pet may not look overweight to you, but even a small amount of extra weight can be dangerous for a pet.

Why Obesity in Pets is Dangerous

There are a number of risks that are associated with overweight pets. Just like humans, the risks of your pet being overweight are numerous. One of the most risky conditions associated with pet obesity is diabetes. However, there are also a number of other risks, which include heart problems, joint issues, a higher risk of death during surgery, decreased liver function, and even heat intolerance. In other words, obesity can shorten the lifespan of your dog or cat.

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How to Help Your Dog or Cat Lose Weight

By Linda Cole

An overweight dog or cat can struggle with many of the same health concerns overweight people have to deal with. There’s nothing wrong with giving your pet a few TidNips treats now and then, especially when training, but we need to understand the importance of exercise and maintaining a proper and healthy weight for our pets just as much as we do with our own weight. An obese pet is no laughing matter.

It’s not as easy as you might think to help your dog or cat lose weight. Let’s face it, cats spend a good deal of their time sleeping, which is normal for them. Trying to get a cat motivated to exercise will mean you need to play with her. You have to be careful, however, and not allow her to lose weight too quickly because cats can easily develop a very serious disease called Fatty Liver Disease that’s hard to treat and can be life threatening. The cause is unknown, but obesity is suspected to play a role.

One out of every four dogs and cats are overweight. Here’s a simple way to help you determine if your pet is too heavy. Rub your hand down along your pet’s side, under the hair. If you can feel their ribs, they aren’t overweight. However, if you can’t feel their ribs it’s time to consider a weight loss program, but only after your vet has had a chance to give them a checkup. Weight issues in dogs can be associated with Cushing’s disease or hypothyroidism. A checkup is a must to make sure your pet is healthy enough for an increase in exercise and to discuss a proper feeding schedule.

Overweight dogs and cats don’t deserve lower quality ingredients to lose weight; they simply need your help in providing them with the proper amount of high quality food. If you’re already feeding your pet CANIDAE or FELIDAE, you know the benefits of providing a well balanced, natural and healthy diet. Pets that eat a premium quality food like CANIDAE or FELIDAE don’t have to eat as much in order to feel full. Along with proper exercise, a high quality food can help keep your pet at their recommended weight.

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The Right Way to “Treat” Pets


By Julia Williams

Doling out the dog treats and cat snacks is one of the more fun parts of pet ownership. It’s a ritual we all enjoy, but none more so than the pets themselves. I like giving treats to my cats because they really seem to love them, as evidenced by all the meowing, purring and leg rubbing that occurs when the treat canister comes out. They recognize this container and literally go wild when they see it. If treats make our pets so deliriously happy, there’s no harm in giving them, right? Well, not exactly. Too many treats, or the wrong kind of treats, can actually do more harm than good. Our dogs and cats can’t read labels, and they don’t know a thing about calories or what ingredients might be good for them or bad for them. Which means it’s up to us as responsible pet owners to make sure we’re “treating” them right.

Calories count!

People often joke about fat cats and pudgy pooches, but overweight pets are not funny. Excess weight can contribute to many serious health problems and can make a pet’s life miserable. To avoid over-treating your pet, ask your vet how much to feed your dog or cat each day, and include the calories from treats in their daily food allotment. A good rule of thumb is to make sure that no more than 10 to 20% of the day’s calories are coming from treats. Be aware that some treats have significantly more calories than others, so read the nutrition labels and choose your treats wisely.

Quality counts too!

Pet treats vary a great deal in terms of the nutrition and health benefits they provide. Some treats are as nutritionally devoid and bad for pets as a greasy bag of chips is for us. They contain little in the way of healthy ingredients and may also contain unhealthy things like by-products, chemical preservatives and fillers. Other pet treats, like the CANIDAE Snap-Bits™ and Snap-Biscuit® dog treats, are made with premium quality ingredients and other things that actually benefit the pet. Such as: viable micro-organisms for GI tract health and good digestion, balanced omega 6 & 3 fatty acids, essential vitamins and minerals, skin and coat conditioners and natural preservatives. These nutritionally complete treats are low in calories and fat, and high in protein. I don’t mean to sound like a commercial for CANIDAE here, but honestly, I consider these to be the crème de la crème of dog treats.

Don’t give treats for begging

Dogs and cats are incredibly smart creatures. It doesn’t take long for them to figure out that they can use those “sad puppy dog eyes” and feline wiles to manipulate their owners into giving them a treat. It can be hard to resist those plaintive looks or insistent meows, but resist you should. Giving in to their begging is rewarding them for inappropriate behavior, and once you do, they’ll never stop begging. I made this mistake with my cats. I started giving them each a handful of crunchies before I went to bed. Now, every single night without fail, as I am getting ready for bed there is loud, insistent meowing and pacing going on in the kitchen. I am 100% certain this begging is not from a place of “We’re starving here, give us some food already!” Nevertheless, it can be awfully hard to resist, and I hate that I created a situation where they expect – no, demand – these treats every night.

Use treats as a reward

During and after playtime is a perfect time to offer your cat or dog treats. This helps them to associate positive things with exercise, and they’ll look forward to this daily activity even more than they already do. Treats are also great to use for training sessions and teaching your dog or cat tricks (don’t laugh – cats can be taught to perform tricks!). Just remember to adjust the amount of their regular food to avoid overfeeding.

Giving treats is a pleasure, and it builds upon that amazing human/animal bond we have with our beloved pets. When we “treat” them right, they give us many years of love and companionship in return.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Obesity in Pets: It’s No Laughing Matter


By Julia Williams

People who aspire to be compassionate and/or politically correct wouldn’t dream of laughing at an obese person. Most of us are evolved enough to know this just isn’t funny. Yet, to my dismay I recently discovered that some people do think fat cats and pudgy pooches are hilarious. A simple Google search brought up countless pictures of morbidly obese dogs and cats, as well as Youtube videos, cartoons, caricatures and blogs, all poking fun at these roly-poly pets.

As an animal lover, I didn’t laugh. In fact, I gasped. I was saddened at the sight of these poor pets that were allowed to become so shockingly huge. For me, this sort of thing is the opposite of amusing. It’s certainly not what any caring, responsible pet owner would do. Our pets do not become fat of their own accord; they simply eat what (and how much) is given to them by their human guardian. Our pets don’t control the amount of calorie-burning exercise and playtime they get either. When these two things are out of balance, weight gain is the inevitable result. And according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, fat pets are becoming more prevalent every year. Their 2008 study estimated that 44% of all dogs and 57% of all cats in the U.S. are overweight, with around 14% qualifying for obesity.

But fat pets are not funny. The reality is, obese pets suffer, and many die prematurely due to weight related health problems. Like humans, overweight pets are at risk for developing diabetes, heart disease, liver malfunction, digestive disorders, high blood pressure, damage to their joints and bones, and many other conditions that endanger their health. I think it’s unfortunate that people who allow their pet to starve (intentionally or not) are charged with animal cruelty, yet owners who allow their dog or cat to become morbidly obese are not held accountable. It doesn’t really make sense to me. When your pet becomes so big it can’t walk and has difficulty breathing, isn’t it rather obvious this is a serious health problem which requires human intervention?

Ignorance is no excuse for letting a pet suffer, either. Even when it’s not so clear cut, such as when a pet is merely overweight rather than morbidly obese, a responsible owner would be made aware of this when they took their pet in for a yearly checkup. Then, they could discuss with their vet the proper way to go about helping their pet lose weight. Just as with humans, there is no “quick fix” for weight gain in pets. Many different factors may be contributing to a pet’s excess weight, and owners need the guidance and knowledge of trained professionals to safely and effectively combat pet obesity.

Helping an overweight pet shed excess pounds is not an easy task, to be sure. The ideal solution is not to let your pet get fat in the first place. But if and when it happens, a responsible owner takes action immediately to remedy the situation, because untreated obesity in pets can have devastating consequences. No one who loves their dog or cat would allow their health and quality of life to be diminished by excess weight.

If you think your pet is overweight, let your vet help you determine the best course of action. By helping your pet to lose weight, you will likely be adding years to their life – which means there will be a lot more kitty kisses or doggie hugs in store for you!

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.