Lifestyle

Keep unwanted pounds off pets, avoid health troubles | National Pet Obesity Awareness

Being overweight can cause joint pain, strain the cardiovascular system and result in fatigue. But humans are not the only animals to suffer from obesity. Many companion animals are overweight as well. Helping pets to shed extra weight can alleviate a number of health concerns and help pets feel more comfortable.

Extra pounds can sneak up on cats and dogs. According to the National Pet Obesity Awareness Day Survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, in 2012 52.5 percent of dogs and 58.3 percent of cats in America were overweight or obese. This equates to 80 million dogs and cats at increased risk for weight-related health disorders, including many cancers.

“Our data shows that obesity is rampant, and we are certainly setting up more and more dogs and cats for joint problems during their lives,” said veterinarian and surgical specialist Dr. Steve Budsberg of the University of Georgia.

Few animals will turn away from extra food, and overfeeding is a primary culprit in animal obesity. Here are some other causes of paunchy pets: leaving food available all of the time; giving the animal too large a serving size; supplementing food with table scraps; offering too many treats in between meals; feeding the animal too many carbohydrates or a subpar food; being unaware the pet is scavenging food from the garbage or from other animals; and a lack of exercise.

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