If Dogster dogs are like the nation’s dogs, half of you reading this will live with a portly pooch. A new survey by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention finds that 55 percent of US dogs are obese or overweight.
I think that Dogsters are a little more aware of the dangers of overfeeding, so I’d be willing to bet the percentage of overweight Dogster dogs is lower than the national average. That said, it’s easy for the pounds to creep on: Last year it was becoming clear to me that Jake, my always-hungry yellow Lab, was packing on some extra pounds. The vet confirmed this, and I changed a few things around Jake’s eating. He dropped 8 pounds and has been at his fighting weight for more than half a year now. It was easy (for me, anyway!).
Some 21 percent of dogs were found to be clinically obese, defined as more than 30 percent over their ideal body weight. Overweight and obese dogs are at a much higher risk for diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, and kidney disease. Click here for a helpful article on identifying if your pet is obese, and figuring out what you can do about it. Or go to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention for great tips and weight-loss tools.
While people can be charged with animal cruelty for starving their pets, there’s been more attention lately to the idea that letting your dog get really fat is also cruel. In Great Britain, two brothers were convicted of animal cruelty for making their 10-year-old chocolate Lab, Rusty, extraordinarily morbidly obese. She weighted 161 pounds before animal authorities took her away and put her on a diet. (They did eventually get her back with many conditions attached.)
The good news is that dogs have not yet caught up to the human obesity and overweight rates in the US. A recent Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index finding shows that 63 percent of adults in the U.S. are either overweight or obese.
It’s time to put down the snacks, pick up the leash, and get out for great walks. It’s a win-win deal, nice bonding time, and great for both of you. In fact, first thing this morning I’m going to grab Jake’s extendo-leash and head out for a brisk walk on the beach. Care to join us, wherever you are?