April is National Canine Fitness Month. This event is sponsored annually by FitPaws to raise awareness of the growing problem of canine obesity. Don’t leave your dog’s fitness to chance. Take charge, get moving, and keep him fit for life!
Pet Obesity is Epidemic in the US
Pet obesity is on the rise in the US. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 54% of US dogs were overweight or obese in 2016 according to their veterinarian. An estimated 49.1 million dogs and 50.5 million cats are overweight or obese in the United States.
Obesity decreases longevity and quality of life
Obesity is a significant health issue for both dogs and cats. Several diseases have been linked, either directly or indirectly, to obesity. Obese animals are at risk of osteoarthritis, heart disease, pancreatitis, and some types of cancers (American Animal Hospital Association). Diabetes mellitus may be linked to obesity in dogs, although the evidence for this is not as strong.
Both quality and length of life are decreased in obese pets (AAHA). In the Golden Retriever Lifespan study, scientists found that when Goldens were even moderately overweight their life expectancy was reduced by almost two years.
The good news is that obesity is preventable. The bad news is that pet obesity is still difficult for pet parents to recognize. When pet parents were asked about their own dogs weight, 81% of pet parents and 87% of veterinarians said their dogs were a normal and healthy weight. If 54% of dogs in the US are overweight, it’s clear that many owners and even veterinarians are thinking wishfully about their pet’s weight.
Take control of your dog’s fitness.
How can you take charge of your dog’s fitness? You can start by beginning a healthy exercise program. In general, dogs should be active 30 minutes to 2 hours per day, depending on their breed. Some active working breeds like border collies need at least 45 minutes of vigorous activity each day.
Work your dog gradually into fitness. If your dog has been relatively sedentary, start with short 5-10 minute walks and move up. Your goal should be 45 minutes of activity for your dog each day.
Always consult your veterinarian before beginning any exercise or diet program for your pet. Remember that certain breeds, especially short-nosed dogs like bulldogs, are not well-suited to vigorous activity, and special monitoring is needed.
The other side of the fitness equation is diet. Start by understanding what is an ideal body condition and weight for your dog’s breed. Set a goal with your veterinarian for a healthy weight and feeding plan. It’s important to consult your veterinarian before you start any diet or fitness program with your pet.
KC Pet Collective wants your pet to be in her best condition. Stay tuned for an exciting new challenge featuring prizes, incentives, motivation, support, and more.