According to the Centers for Disease Control, about two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese. Approximately 17.5 percent of children (age 6 to 11) and 17 percent of adolescents (age 12 to 19) were overweight in 2001 to 2004.
Unfortunately, obesity not only affects adults and our children, it is also affecting our pets. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) over 44 percent of dogs and 57 percent of cats are now estimated to be overweight or obese in the United States. That is 33 million dogs in the U.S. are estimated to be overweight or obese!
How do you know if your pet is overweight? Generally you should be able to feel your dog’s ribs and shoulder blades. The stomach should not sag and the waist should be easily noted when viewed from above. If you are feeling fat and not ribs, or can grab a handful of fat under the belly, it is time to put your canine companion on a diet. Dogs that are obese are at risk for osteoarthritis, Type 2 diabetes, respiratory disorders, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer.
How do you monitor your dog’s weight? Confer with your vet, count your dog’s calories by feeding appropriate portions (no free feeding!), exercise your dog and make sure your dog is getting a nutritionally-balanced diet.
The Whole Dog Journal (www.whole-dog-journal.com) this past year published reviews on different food types with an easy to understand guide on how to choose a good food for your dog. There are more and more choices in dog food out there, which makes it more challenging. I always read the nutritional information on my food and that of my dog’s food.
Remember healthy dogs are happy dogs! Exercise together, go for a walk!
Ahwatukee Foothills resident Beth Friedman is owner of Canine Companion Consulting, which conducts in-home dog training. Canine Companion Consulting’s mission is to enhance the dog and human relationship by assisting humans to better understand dog culture and behavior, which results in a happy, well trained dog. Reach her at (602) 790-9430, Beth.Ctothe3@yahoo.com or visit www.CanineCompanionConsulting.com.