Furry pals can be obese too

City vets say pet dogs and cats are becoming fat from overeating

Harleen says the diets of her Rottweiler Whiskey and Labrador Glen are monitored individually.

Do you feel your pooch is becoming a bit too chubby and lethargic for his/her age? You are not alone. Many pet owners across the globe are waking up to the fact that a lavish lifestyle is making their dogs and cats obese.

According to a recent report from the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention, 60 per cent of US cats are overweight and dogs are also the same at 56 per cent. 

While the numbers may not the same in the case of pets in India, veterinarians agree that more and more pets are becoming obese these days. 

Osteoarthritis, diabetes and thyroid are the common health issues among pets. 

Dr Lohith, a veterinarian, says that pet parents overfeeding their furry friends is one of the main reasons. “Your pets will ask for food when you are eating, they love food, but you don’t have to keep feeding them all the time,” he says. 

Every breed has a standard weight and nutrition level that they have to maintain, which many parents are unaware of. 

The Purina Body Score is a guide followed by vets all over the world which tells you what the ideal body weight should be of each breed in dogs and cats.

Many factors like the fat around the rib and abdominal tucks determine your pet’s ideal weight. Along with a strict diet, exercise is also a must.

Entrepreneur Harleen Singh has a Rottweiler (Whiskey) and Labrador (Glen), whom she has to individually monitor because of their different health conditions. 

“I had to reduce Whiskey’s diet after she was neutered. Her weight gain afterwards was a major concern so I switched from white rice to only red rice. Glen, on the other hand, easily puts on weight. So we make sure that he gets enough exercise and eats twice a day,” she explains. 

She gives them only 150 gm of rice and chicken each time. Both the furry pets go on an hour long walk in the morning and sometimes in the evening too.

“Being in an apartment is not easy but we try to tire them out as much as we can with games or walks,” Harleen adds. 

Monitoring the diet of an older dog is also quite important. Marketing professional Ankit Sehgal’s eight-year-old German Shepherd Ginger is given a mix of home food and pet food. 


Ankit Sehgal with Ginger

Ankit says, “Ginger likes rice and chicken which he has once a day. I alter his menu by occasionally including potatoes and other vegetables that he likes.”

Some days are challenging when Ginger is picky about his food. “This usually happens when he’s running a fever. We check his temperature at the time and give him food accordingly. But if it’s something we haven’t faced earlier, we call the doctor,” he adds. 

 

What should pet parents do?

- Know what is best for your pet and track their diets.

- Take the help of an expert to know what is good and bad for them.

- Don’t give them more food when you’re eating.

- Don’t make rice their major food. Train them to have other foods too.

- Provide enough exercise.

- Make sure that it’s not a health condition that is causing them to gain weight.

What about cats?

Dr Lohith says that cats can also become obese if overfed. “Most cats now are kept indoors which means that they aren’t hunting and their activity level is reduced. They have easy access to food now. But all of these can be monitored by the pet to avoid serious illness later on,” he advises.

Can processed pet food cause obesity?

Experts say that when it comes to branded food like pedigree, quantity matters. “When pet parents leave for work, they tend to fill the bowl with pet food. This will only encourage the pets to eat whenever they feel like and cause problems in the long run. It is not bad for the pet as long as they are only given the amount suited to their body type,” explains Dr Lohith.

Loss of energy with age

Veterinarians advise pet parents to do their research before bringing home a pet. They must know what all they can eat, how much exercise they need and their health conditions.

They will lose their energy as years pass by, resulting in them wanting to play, eat and exercise less. It’s important to notice these changes and treat them accordingly.

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