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5 Ways to Combat the Pet Obesity Epidemic

Are you making your best friend sick and not even realizing it?

Believe it or not, a vast number of dogs and cats are either overweight or obese. Between 25 and 40 percent of dogs are considered obese or are likely to become obese, and at least 25 percent of all cats are considered obese or are likely to become obese.

Pet obesity is usually caused by over-eating and a lack of physical exercise. Pet owners view food and treats as a way to reward their pets, which contributes to overeating. And with many people’s hectic lifestyles, pets don’t always get the exercise they need.

This is not something to be taken lightly. When your pet is overweight, he is susceptible to arthritis, high blood pressure, and even diabetes and cancer. Even if your pet is perfectly healthy right now, there are steps you should take to ensure that health continues. And if your pet is already overweight, the time to act is now.

Here are five ways to combat the pet obesity epidemic.

1. Cut back on the scraps your pets eat. You might think it’s cute when your pet acts as your “vacuum cleaner” in the kitchen or gobbles up the messes your kids make. But too much people food is not good for any animal. It’s OK to give them some leftovers every now and then, but keep this in check and limit what you give them. Pet owners never think of all these fat calories that their pets are getting from this often everyday routine.

2. Increase your pets exercise routine. With a cat, consider setting aside a certain amount of time each day to play with them. For dogs, the best approach is to get active yourself and take them with you around the yard, on a walk, or to the park. An added benefit? You will be improving your health while doing the same for your best friend.

3. Do not overfeed your pets. Pet food manufacturers don’t always list the number of calories in each serving. Use a pet food calculator to determine your pet’s ideal dailly caloric intake. Compare that to what your feeding your pet – including treats and any human food you might be sharing. A lot of people never really think about how many calories they are giving their pet. This can be a big turning point for pet obesity, and can also prevent you from wasting food.

4. Cut back on treats, which are high in sugar and fats. Treats are often full of calories and too many of them will make your pets sick. There are healthy treats on the market, so if you must give your pet treats, make sure they’re low in calories and contain nutritious ingredients, not just fillers. Rewarding your pets is always fun, but keep the calories in check. As an alternative, try rewarding your pets with attention or a favorite toy instead of so many treats.

5. Be aware of your pet’s situation before it gets out of hand. Keeping track of how much your feeding your pet, along with reducing the overall calories, will lead to a healthier pet. Always be aware of what your pet is consuming, and know how much exercise they’re getting. Finally, take action at the first sign of weight gain or decreased energy.