Number one health risk for pets – weight!

One of Rover’s Rest Stop’s kids!

One of Rover’s Rest Stop’s kids!

Obesity is the number one health risk for pets in America! According to the 2015 Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 53 percent of dogs and 58 percent of cats in the United States are overweight or obese. Overweight or obese dogs and cats have an increased risk of diabetes, hypertension, shortened life expectancy, osteoarthritis, kidney disease, breathing problems and heart disease. Scary isn’t it?

How did your pet become overweight? The main cause is over-feeding and over-treating. Just like in people, dogs and cats gain excess weight when they eat more calories than they use. Most of us (one in five) do not even recognize our pet is overweight, this is why regular vet checks are so important. Sometimes the weight of your pet can be helped by revising the food they’re on. For example, some cat owners switch their wet food for dry cat food. This means that the food can be left out all day with less risk of bacterial growth, the cat can then pick at the food as he wants it. You can read some online reviews about dry cat food online from websites such as The Pet Handbook (you can find it here if you’re interested).

What the ideal weight looks like – your dog’s ribs should be slightly visible and easily felt behind the shoulder blades. Looking from the side, the abdomen (just in front of the hind legs) should look ‘tucked up’ as compared to the chest. Looking from above, the abdomen should be slimmer than the chest and the hips, forming an hourglass figure. With a cat, you should be able to quite easily feel the ribs. The base of the cat’s tail should have slight fat covering this area and it should feel smooth. You should be able to feel a small amount of fat over the bony parts, such as the spine, shoulders and hips. Looking from above your cat should have a definite waist. From the side, a cat should have a slight abdominal tuck.

What should you do – make a plan in two parts: nutrition and exercise. All you need to do is stick to it!

Things you can do right now: Healthy living is not just healthy eating – it is also being active!

Dogs – take your dog for two brisk walks a day – not light strolls. Most people walk their dogs at a pace of 20-25 minutes per mile. Aim for a 12-15 minutes per mile pace, which should bring you to a light sweat. Get in 15 minutes of active playtime twice a day with toys, tennis balls or whatever gets them moving. Cats – get a feather toy, ping-pong balls or a balled up piece of wax paper, remote controlled toy mouse or a laser pointer for your cat to chase around the house.

Rover’s Rest Stop receives many kids in an extreme overweight condition. We strive to make them healthy and get the weight off for their well-being. Some of you may remember the cocker spaniel Alex; you can see before/after photos at under the drop down tab Rover’s Raves-Photos-Comments, go half-way down the page. See his amazing transformation! Thanks to his adoptive home he is working at keeping it off – they love him!

Rover’s calendar for May through September is on the home page. We would love to have you drop by and visit with our great kids! We are looking for volunteers to help with the kids at adoption events too! For more information call 480-600-2828.

Additionally, if you like staying up to date with all the latest pet health news and enjoy reading articles about how to care for your furry companion, then check out the Healthy Solutions for Pets website for a selection of tips and tricks.