Pet Obesity Takes Its Toll

The single best predictor of a pet’s health over the course of their lifetime relates to weight. As the incidence of obesity rises in people, a disturbing parallel is being seen in our pets. There’s one major difference, though. There are all kinds of reasons why people might be overweight, but we control the entire nutritional intake of our pets. In other words, you can never say it’s a dog’s fault he’s overweight. One hundred percent of the time, as his owner, the responsibility is yours. Sorry, but if your pet is fat, it’s your fault.

The New York Times details how the effects not only shorten the lives of animals, but take an economic toll on owners:

“Seeing animals suffering from health conditions secondary to their obesity is a common situation,” said Dr. Louise Murray, vice president of the Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital, run by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, in New York.

Just as diabetes and heart disease are more common in people who are obese, these diseases also are more common in overweight animals. The average cost of veterinary care for a diabetic dog or cat in 2011 was more than $900, according to Petplan USA, a pet insurance company. Treatment for arthritis and cruciate ligament tears, which can be caused by the strain of an overweight frame that weakens joints, especially in dogs, cost pet owners an average of $2,000.

Here’s the most important point to understand: obesity isn’t just about your pet’s weight. It’s more about how much fat tissue they’re carrying. Run your hands over your dog’s ribcage. Can you feel their ribs, or are you feeling a layer of fat covering them? That layer shouldn’t be there. Look at them from directly above their back. Can you see a “waist”? You should. If you don’t, that’s an overweight pet.

Dawg Business has a terrific chart. Check it out and then take a look. Perhaps it’s time for more exercise, and cut way back on the treats.


Photo Credit: Matthew Beck/Citrus County Chronicle, via Associated Press



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