Waistlines are getting bigger in the United States, but it's not just humans who are packing on the pounds. Our pets are getting bigger too. According to a 2011 survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, a staggering 55% of cats in our country are overweight.
A roly poly kitty might be cute, but those extra pounds can present a number of challenges for everyday living, as well as increased risk of health problems such as osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, breathing problems, kidney disease, and shortened life expectancy.
In honor of National Pet Obesity Awareness Day— October 10, 2012—here are a few tips to help keep your animal companions trim and healthy.
- Exercise is key. Take your dog for a long walk around your neighborhood or to the off-leash dog park for some play time. Cats can also be leash-trained so that they may enjoy the outdoors on supervised walks.
- Encourage playtime. Throwing the Frisbee for your dog, or encouraging your cat to pounce, leap, and run laps around the house, will keep your pet entertained and healthy.
- Toys for treats. Work-to-eat toys give cats and dogs puzzles to solve in order to earn a reward, keeping their brains and their bodies exercised.
- Offer alternatives. Instead of offering high-calorie treats, try other options like baby carrots, pieces of rice cakes, or breaking up treats into smaller pieces.
- No table scraps. Human food is just that—for humans, not animals. Not only can they be high in calories, but they can cause indigestion or other health issues for your pet.