Losing weight is a New Year’s resolution for many Americans, but did you know that your pet might need to make this life change as well? For the sixth straight year, Nationwide reports that pet obesity is on the rise.
Nationwide is the first and largest provider of pet health insurance in the U.S., and reports that 1.3 million claims were filed in 2015 for obesity-related conditions including arthritis, bladder/urinary tract infections, diabetes, kidney and liver diseases, asthma, and various forms of pain and immobility. Many of these claims were filed to cover emergency veterinary services.
The majority of these claims were made to assists cats and dogs. About 38.9 million households claim to own cats, and about 46.3 million own dogs. While the number of pets dwarf the number of claims filed to Nationwide, 1.3 million is still nothing to sneeze at, considering the number of pet owners who do not have pet health insurance or do not file claims.
“Obesity can be detrimental to the livelihood of our pets,” according to Carol McConnell, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer at Nationwide. “Pet owners need to be aware of the quality and amount of food or treats they give their furry family members.”
The New Year gives pet owners the perfect opportunity to make the changes needed to help their pets slim down. Here are some simple tips to jumpstart your pet’s new, healthier lifestyle:
- Stop feeding your pet table scraps. Remember that animals don’t have stomachs like ours. Many foods that we eat without problems are not digestible by our furry friends. Only feed your pet the food recommended by their veterinarian.
- Measure the food that you give your pet. Filling their bowl to the brim will only encourage your pet to overeat. Additionally, if you have multiple pets, it’s important to monitor their meals to make sure that no one is getting greedy and eating another pet’s food in addition to their own.
- Cut down on treats. Instead of rewarding your pet with a treat every time they are a good boy or girl, try to praise them with other forms of affection. Petting and play can be just as rewarding for your pet, and can promote health as well.
- Make exercise fun and exciting. Many dogs will jump at the idea of going on a walk, but cats can be trickier. Laser pointers can usually trigger a cat’s hunting instincts and get them moving from one end of the room to the other. Other more dog-like cats don’t mind going on walks. Just make sure that you get them a specially sized harness and leash just like you would for your pup.
Failing to pay attention to your pet’s health and weight may result in emergency veterinary surgery. Try these preventative measures, but if you feel that your pet’s health is still suffering, get in touch with the emergency veterinarians at Southern Arizona Veterinary Emergency Center.