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Overweight Dogs – Stresses to Your Dog and Your Wallet

With the soaring numbers of people in the United States who are overweight or obese, it should come as no surprise that pets are following the same trend. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), 58% of cats and 45% of dogs in this country are overweight or obese. Approximately 20% fall into the obese category. As with humans, this extra weight is not just difficult to haul around. It can cause serious health problems, noticeably shorten the life of an animal, and quickly empty your savings account. If you take a look at Buffi and Matthew and think they look a little round in the middle, you may need to spend some money and time getting them back into good health.

Determining Obesity
So how do you know if Matthew is fat? Obesity means that your dog is 30% greater than the normal weight for that breed. You can look up the breed standard for him and check what he should weigh. But the best way to know for sure is to take a trip to the vet. Your vet can weigh him accurately and can tell you if he needs to lose weight and if so, how much. A good rule of thumb is that if you can no longer see his ribs and hipbones, he’s overweight. But a vet can determine to what extent.

If you’ve looked her over and it’s quite obvious that little Buffi is grossly overweight, you may be asking yourself, how did this happen? As with people, excess pounds generally come from too much food and not enough exercise. If Buffi doesn’t get her daily play time and if you tend to fill up her food bowl as soon as it is empty, mystery solved.

Health Risks and Costs
Overfeeding your dog or cat can be very costly. First, there are health problems to consider. Extra weight can lead to diabetes, which may require daily insulin shots. Arthritis is also a big health issue with overweight dogs, which will require medication, often injected, and potentially surgery. As with humans, high blood pressure is a serious result of obesity, which also means medication. Another serious one is Kidney failure, which may lead to dialysis or surgery. The cost of caring for a pet with any of these issues can add up quickly! Even just a daily pill can be expensive. According to the Veterinary Pet Insurance Company, in 2010, customers claimed $25 million for obesity-related conditions. Other pet insurance companies say that their top claims each year come from treatments needed for overweight animals. In addition to medical costs, overweight pets consume a lot of food. Especially with large breeds, pet food costs can also skyrocket.

Once you have recognized what has happened to little Matthew, it is time to make a change. But, don’t close up your wallet just yete, this will cost money too. First, you need to find out just how much to feed him. Your vet can tell you that as well as the type of food he will need. In fact, most brands, especially store bought ones, suggeset you feed Buffi and Matthew more than is recommended.

Indeed, there are diet foods for pets, and they are pricier than regular foods. You will also need to get Matthew and Buffi some exercise. That could be accomplished with a daily walk for a dog. Treadmills are now made specifically for dogs and you can even purchase a Tread Wheel from GoPet in a variety of sizes. The Tread Wheel is essentially an oversized hamster wheel, which ranges in price from $375 to $970. If you can afford it, it would release you from the need to walk Matthew outside or to play with Buffi and her toys. But then again, you didn’t get a dog just to watch him or her spin around or get on a treadmill, now did you? No! You got a dog to play catch with, run around your back yard and have loads of fun with!

The bottom line is that by allowing your pet to get overweight, you can seriously compromise his health. Besides the monetary costs, his life will be shorter and his quality of life significantly diminished, which really isn’t fair. So, perhaps it’s time to start measuring the kibble and to go out for a walk. Chances are, you can both use it.

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