Did you make a New Year’s resolution? Were you one of the millions of people that vowed to lose weight this year? Perhaps you should share that goal with your canine companion. A new study showed that pet obesity in the United States has risen again – for the fifth year in a row!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve certainly heard about the damaging effects of obesity on your health. Did you realize that many of those negative effects can also happen to your Fido if he’s carrying a few extra pounds? Unfortunately for you, the only person to blame if your dog is overweight is yourself.
New data released from Nationwide, the largest provider of health insurance for pets in the country, shows that more than $50 million in pet insurance claims were filed in 2014 for disease and health conditions related to pet obesity. That is a 10 percent growth since 2012.
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If your dog is one of the millions of overweight pets, I can’t stress enough how vital it is to get him on a healthier track. Obesity greatly increases your dog’s risk of preventable health problems and it will shorten his life expectancy.
Something as simple as cutting back your dog’s calorie intake and taking him for a 20 minute walk every day could increase his life expectancy by years.
Nationwide’s findings were based on their database of more than 550,000 insured animals. They released information on the top 10 canine obesity-related conditions in 2014, and here they are (in order):
- Bladder problems/UTI
- Low Thyroid Hormone Production
- Liver Disease
- Torn Ligaments in the Knee
- Diseased Disc in the Spine
- Fatty Growth
- Chronic Kidney Disease
- Heart Failure
If your dog is overweight, there is no time to lose. You should consult with your veterinarian immediately to work out a plan to help your pup slim down. Obesity is more common and more dangerous in aging pets, meaning it’s important to keep your older dog active too.
Depending on your dog’s individual weight issues, your vet can recommend a weight loss plan, but more than likely it will include a change in diet and an increase in exercise. If you’re feeding your dog a low quality food full of fillers and artificial ingredients, you’ll need to change that first.
A top quality food will give your dog more nutrients in every bite so he won’t need to eat as much. Not to mention, better quality foods include more vitamins and minerals that will aid in weight loss and promote better overall health. Cutting down on calories includes treats and human food as well. You’ll need to cut out most, if not all snacking including table scraps.
Once you’ve gotten Fido’s food intake under control, you’ll need to begin thinking about exercise. You can’t just drop your dog off at the gym – you’re going to need to exercise with him. That may sound like a drag to you, but just think of how great it will be for your health too. You and your pet will be spending time together and getting healthier. Now there’s a win-win!
Creating an exercise plan is easier than you may think. Just think of something that you and your dog both enjoy. Whether it’s swimming, biking or hiking in the woods, you’ll both be able to enjoy yourselves while you put in the effort to shed some pounds. Exercising with your dog can be as easy as playing a game of fetch for 15-20 minutes or as intense as hiking through your local city forest.