Obese pets is a problem nationwide. How to slim them down and keep them alive longer.
It's no secret Americans are fat. According to the CDC 1 out of every 3 adults in this country is obese. So it makes sense that our pets are fat too. If we aren't exercising, we probably aren't walking the dogs either. Nancy Naeve Brown has more on the toll that extra weight takes on our fat cats and chow hounds and how to slim them down.
Obie the obese Dachshund became infamous after he could barely waddle on to the set of live with Kelly and Michael last September. He gained national attention because he had gained way to much weight. His owner knew the 77 pound dog was going to die if she didn't give him up. Obie is the extreme, but veterinarian Dr. Mindy Klatt at All City Pet Care South in Sioux Falls says pets are putting on pounds every year and it is a big problem she sees a lot.
"It's bad for them just as it's bad for us. It's hard on your joints and hard on your heart. It predisposes you to diabetes especially cats will have health problems. The hard part, in general, those animals who are overweight their life spans are being cut shorter, "Dr. Klatt says.
My 4 year old dachshund Ned is no Obie but he is a little on the thick side. Lucy is sleeker. Both are the same age and eat the same amount of food, but Ned is sneaky when it comes to treats; he eats everyone else's.
Dr. Klatt says the biggest reason our furry babies are chunky is because we, the pet owners, are in denial. We like seeing big fat fluffy cats and pudgy pups, but Dr. Klatt doesn't like what she is seeing.
"A lot of times you will see that spare tire around their mid section closer to their hind end and that is not what we want. I think most people are over feeding our pets. Instead of reading the back of the food bag and do the generic 2 cups a day go to that company's website. A lot of companies actually have charts to show how much the animal weighs, there lifestyle. Are they an athlete or a couch potato? Are they spade or neutered and how many calories are in each cup and then you just plug in the numbers. It's really about educating us on how much food to give them. "Dr. Klatt said.
Dr. Klatt says we should be able to feel their ribs much like you should be able to feel the bones on the back of your hand. If you can't that means there is a layer of fat and they need to get to the gym. For Lucy (not my Lucy) that means Doggie Daycare. "Our goal is to offer an all around experience whether you are interested in our boarding, grooming, daycare, behavioral services or nutritional education and food," Co-Owner of Precious Pets Sarah Gunlicks said.
Roberta Famestad's 5 year old giant schnauzer Mia comes to doggie daycare at Precious Pets in Sioux Falls 3 to 4 times a week.
"They require a lot of exercise. They are just one of those dogs that needs to be entertained and wants to learn something new every day," Roberta said.
And if Roberta isn't careful, Mia will put on weight quickly if she gets too many treats or doesn't play enough.
"If I were going to show her I'd have to slim her down," Roberta said.
It's the same as kids. If you are going to sit on the couch with video games they are not moving. If dogs are on the couch when you are gone, for one they shouldn't be, they aren't moving. Here they play then they lay down. And if you've had one of those days and you can't play with them it's no big deal because they've already played and got their exercise here," Sarah said.
So if you want to prolong the life of your best friend, and fellow pet parents I know you do, keep them at their fighting weight. Don't overfeed them, which include treats, break them up in to tiny pieces. They like the praise that comes with it better than the biscuit anyway and work to make sure they are getting regular exercise. If you can't do it with them, there's always room at Precious Pets for your precious pets.
Dr. Klatt says be careful with table scraps. She says that really packs on the pounds because human food is higher in calories. Another problem with feeding the dogs under the table you don't know how much or how many other people at the table are doing the same thing.