America's obesity epidemic is in sharp focus, but one aspect of the conversation that tends to get left out is involves our pets. According to 2014 statistics about pets in the U.S., 52.7% of dogs and 57.9% of cats are overweight or obese, says Pet Obesity Prevention. Nationwide, a pet insurance company, has released new information this week that shows these rates have increased by roughly 10% in the last two years, reports CBS News.
Obesity can lead to a host of health problems in your furry friend, says HNGN. Diabetes, arthritis, hypertension, heart disease, respiratory disease, and many other issues are caused by excess body fat, and will not only decrease your pet's quality of life, but it could shorten it up to 2.5 years. Chubby pets can be reluctant to play, exercise, or run around, which is a surefire way to know that they're no longer living to their full potential.
How can you help if your pet's gotten too plump? Just like with humans, there's no quick fix. Take the following steps and stick to a healthy routine:
1. Consult your veterinarian to discuss what food and exercise changes need to be made to slim down your pet. It's crucial to get your pet to a base-level healthy state before going for a rigorous change, says CBS News.
2. Avoid excessive treats. There's so many ways to show love to your pets, so treats should be saved for when they really earn them. When you do give a treat, think about portions. "A little piece of cheese for a cat is like giving a human a hamburger," said Sean Wensley, according to HNGN.
3. Exercise every day. You might have a sprightly dog who has boundless energy, but some dogs, like bulldogs or elderly dogs, don't seem to love exercise as much as their peers at the dog park. However, a daily walk is very important for keeping their bellies and bums in check. The walk will also do you good!