The new year just showed it's face once again, and while we tend to always think about New Years Resolutions for ourselves — Dr. Patrick Mahaney wants you to make some changes for your pet as well!
Focus on Food
As many pet owners show love through food, obesity often results from ignorance of or lack of commitment to recommended feeding guidelines. Excessive intake plus deficient activity equals an overweight pet.
Obesity is the number one nutritional disease affecting American pets. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), estimates that 54% of dogs and cats (approximately 89 million pets) in the United States are overweight or obese. Serious and life altering ailments, including arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and reduced immune system functioning can result from carrying too much weight.
Consult with your veterinarian about your pet’s body condition score (BCS). In my clinical practice, I refer to Purina’s BCS scale of 1-9. The ideal BCS is 5. 1 is the extreme of thinness and 9 is the extreme of obesity. Pets with a BCS over 5, yet less than 7, are considered overweight. A BCS greater than 7 classifies a pet as obese.
Ask your veterinarian to create dietary guidelines tailored to your pet’s energetic needs promoting BCS improvements. My general suggestions for paunchy pets include:
Decrease portion size by 25-33%.
Increase frequency of feeding, such as three to four smaller portions per 24 hrs.
Reduce consumption of highly processed dry pet food by incorporating moisture, fiber, and nutrient filled whole foods.
Commit to Daily Exercise
Set sustainable activity goals for yourself and your pet. Participate in some form of mood and heart rate enhancing physical activity on a daily basis.
If your current fitness plan has gotten stagnant, start fresh for 2013. Walk your dog a longer distance around your neighborhood or choose a more vigorous hiking trail.
Pet exercise isn’t exclusive to dogs. If you have a corpulent kitty, create an indoor activity program using a laser pointer or feather toy entice movement. Elevate the food bowl to a height that requires jumping or climbing to achieve a meal. Divide dry food feedings into many individual portions, then toss the kibble a distance that motivates natural predatory behavior and redirection.
Before starting on an exercise program with your cat or dog, arrange for a veterinary exam to ensure your pet is healthy enough for physical activity.
Pledge to Readily Resolve Illness
Does your pet receive an annual wellness exam with a veterinarian? Wellness exams create the opportunity for your veterinarian to observe illness trends, establish a diagnosis, and recommend treatment.
Geriatric pets (greater than 7 years of age) and those having any ongoing health issues (including arthritis, endocrine disease, cancer, and allergic skin disease) should be examined every 6-12 months (or more frequently).
Commit to readily resolving recognized health problems before irreversible damage occurs. Besides obesity, periodontal disease is a preventable condition that a pet owner can make great differences in managing.
The mouth is a source of infection and inflammation that can affect the health of internal organs (kidneys, liver, heart, pancreas, other) and the immune system. According to a study done by Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine professor of epidemiology, Larry Glickman, a statistically increased incidence of heart disease in dogs is associated with increasing severity of periodontal disease.
Your pet will benefit from daily teeth brushing and egular teeth cleaning under the guidance of your veterinarian.