Obesity and our pets, the shocking truth!

Hey, fellow pet lovers!

Today’s post is all about pet obesity and the negative effects it has on our furry friends’ health, their overall quality of life and their longevity.

Obesity is a massive issue in our society today, whether it be the countless people who are battling with being overweight and the prejudice from the outside world or the millions of innocent pets that are suffering each and every day because of the excess weight they carry.

There’s no getting away from it, we’re a world plagued with obesity and we need to do something about it!! In today’s post, I am going to talk about the shocking truth of how many of our companion animals are actually overweight, the main causes of pet obesity and the detrimental health effects this has on our pets lives.

Let’s jump straight in and learn the shocking truth about obesity and our companion animals!! 

Obesity and our pets, the shocking truth!

white and black english bulldog stands in front of crackers on bowl at daytime
Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

First, let’s start this post by saying what obesity is?

Obesity is a medical condition when a person or companion animal in our case, has accumulated so much excess body fat that it has a negative effect on their health.

There are various things that cause obesity such as

  • Excessive food consumption.

  • Lack of exercise.

  • Genetics.

The first two causes are in our control but genetics not so much, however, this doesn’t change the fact that we are certainly the root cause for most of our companion animals obesity. Obesity is a serious problem and by not keeping your pet a healthy weight you could be inviting all sorts of awful medical conditions such as

  • Exercise intolerance and decreased stamina.

  • Respiratory compromise (breathing difficulty).

  • Heat intolerance.

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure).

  • Diabetes or insulin resistance.

  • Liver disease or dysfunction.

  • Osteoarthritis (lameness).

  • Increased surgical/anesthetic risk.

  • Lowered immune system function.

  • Increased risk of developing malignant tumors (cancer).

petMD, L. (n.d.). Long-term Effects of Obesity on Pets | petMD. [online] Petmd.com. Available at: https://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/evr_multi_long_term_effects_of_obesity_on_pets [Accessed 1 Sep. 2018].

So what are the main causes when it comes to our pet’s being obese??

  • Pet parents feeding their furry friends human food!

dog pet cute
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

How many owners out there cannot say no to them innocent puppy dog eyes or refrain from feeding their furry friend their leftovers?

A lot of owners are guilty when it comes to feeding our pets human foods. However, this is a very bad habit and once started is quite difficult to stop, by giving your pet your leftovers, table scraps or food they otherwise shouldn’t be eating you are not helping them in any way.  I know you only want to do your pet good by making them happy there and then but in the long run you are setting them up for a life plagued full of unhappiness and illness.

Rule number one, say no to those puppy dog eyes!!!

  • Overfeeding of treats.

As well as feeding our pets table scraps, a lot of pet owners feed their pets far too many treats each day and this is another contributor to the number of obese pets we currently see.

A few treats here and there is perfectly fine but if you are feeding lots of high calorific treats each day and providing your pet with not enough exercise then they will quickly pill on the pounds.

Rule number two, keep track of how many treats you feed!!

  • Feeding the incorrect amount of food to your furry friend.

Another reason we have so many obese pets today is that a lot of pet parents are feeding their cats or dogs the incorrect amount of food on a daily basis, resulting in our pets consuming too many calories and easily putting on weight.

Food guidelines on commercially prepared pet foods are not always correct and you should base how much to feed your pet, on their ideal body weight rather than what the packet says. For raw feeding, it is so simple and all you have to do to work out how much you should be feeding your pet is to find out what their ideal expected body weight is and go from there.

You should feed your pet 2-3% of their ideal expected body weight per day. 

My girl Nia’s ideal body weight is about 15/16 kilos.

1% of 15 kilos is 150 grams x 2 is a total of 300 grams a day.

1% of 16 kilos is 160 grams x 3 is a total of 480 grams a day. 

Therefore she gets between 300 and 480 grams a day, it all depends on how much exercise she has done and also how lean or plump she is looking.

Rule number three, make sure you are feeding your pet the correct amount of food each day!!

  • Pet parents not providing their furry friends with enough daily exercise.

Nia and Lily having fun at the park.

The last thing to mention when it comes down to the number of obese pets is the fact that many pet owners are not providing their pets with enough physical exercise.

As you can see in the pictures above my girls both have their own weight vests that we can stick on them when we go on walks or fun trips to the park and it makes a massive difference!! If your pet doesn’t get enough physical exercise then a weight bag or vest would help you keep them fit and healthy by optimizing every second of exercise they do get.

Check out my post on The benefits of wearing a weight vest or bag, for our canine friends.

As well as Nia and Lily we also have Pooss to care for and she is an indoor cat as many of you will already know, this means we have to come up with ways to keep her not only mentally stimulated but also physically active so she stays in good health.

We keep Pooss both mentally stimulated and physically active in a variety of ways, to learn more check out my post on Caring for an Indoor Cat.

Rule number four, provide your pet with enough physical exercise to stay fit and healthy!

How many of our pets are overweight?

So now we know what obesity is, what the main causes of pet obesity are and the awful medical conditions that could affect our beloved pets if they are not a healthy weight and become obese.

But how many of our pets are actually obese??

Well a fair amount, unfortunately. I wasn’t able to find as many statistics as I hoped but I did find figures for the USA and England. Pet obesity is on the rise in both countries and is a massive issue in today’s society. As human obesity increases the same can be said for our companion animals and this really needs to change!

The PFMA (Pet food manufacturers’ association) has done a nutritional survey at the London Vet Show for the last five years to compare data from each year. This year the survey consisted of 215 attendants and the results are pretty worrying, I think you will agree.

In the UK vets believe that,

  • 52% of dogs are overweight.

Over half the dogs that were surveyed are overweight, this is only a small percentage of the overall dog population in the Uk but if these findings are true for this survey then how many of our companion animals are actually obese??

  • 47% of cats are overweight.

Again this is a frightening figure!!

We really need to start thinking about the cause of our pets obesity and working harder on decreasing these statistics.

  • Shockingly 83% of owners don’t think their pets are overweight.

Out of the 215 attendants that took part in the nutritional survey 83% thought that their pets were not overweight.

Considering vets though otherwise, this is very worrying!!

If we cannot realise what a healthy weight is for our companion animals then how can we provide them with a healthy and happy life? 

Statistics are taken from:

(pfma (2018). [online] Available at: https://www.pfma.org.uk/_assets/docs/annual-reports/PFMA-Pet-Data-Report-2018.pdf [Accessed 8 May 2018].)

Now it’s time to move onto America’s statistics and these, unfortunately, aren’t any better!! 

In APOP’s 2017 clinical survey, it was found that

  • 56% of dogs were classified as clinically overweight (body condition score (BCS) 6-7) or obese (BCS 8-9).

This is crazy!!

Over half the dogs that were in the survey were classed as clinically overweight or obese, that equates to an estimated 50.2 million dogs that are suffering each and every day because of their obesity.

  • 60% of cats were classified as clinically overweight (body condition score (BCS) 6-7) or obese (BCS 8-9) by their veterinary professional.

There are more obese cats in this survey than dogs and it is estimated that 56.5 million cats are too heavy, based on 2017 pet population projections provided by the American Pet Products Association (APPA).

In 2016, APOP found 54% of dogs and 59% of cats were overweight or obese so if we compare this to 2017 findings the statistics haven’t got any better and have actually increased. These findings are just a small portion of the actual obesity problem that is plaguing not only us humans but also our companion animals.

Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. (n.d.). Home. [online] Available at: https://petobesityprevention.org/ [Accessed 1 Sep. 2018].

What really troubles me is that our innocent pets don’t really have a say in the matter, it’s not them that are going out and buying their food or deciding how big of a portion they should be having, it’s us. A lot of pet owners out there really need to change their ways to ensure their pets can live a long and happy life.

Thankfully it is possible and we can help our pets lose weight and become that happy healthy pet they were born to be. So now we know the main causes of pet obesity and how many of our companion animals are actually overweight we can move on.

Let’s find out what we can do to prevent our canine and feline friends from ever becoming overweight. 

What we can do to prevent our pets from becoming obese?

There are many simple steps we can take to prevent our pets from being an unhealthy weight and these are following the rules we mentioned above, such as

  • Rule number one, say no to those puppy dog eyes!!!

Don’t give in, no matter how cute or adorable they look at you, it isn’t worth feeding your furry friend human food that will have a detrimental effect on their health and lead to an increased chance of obesity.

  • Rule number two, keep track of how many treats you feed!!

It is so easy to give your pet too many treats but just be aware of how many you have fed on a daily basis and factor them into their total daily intake.

Instead of buying commercially prepared pet treats that may be filled with nasty preservatives and fillers, why don’t you try making your furry friends some homemade treats??

Here are a few of my girl’s favourites

A lot of people feed their pets far too much food each day and you really need to work out how much your pet is meant to be having every day to stay healthy. Make sure you increase or decrease your pet’s food accordingly to maintain a healthy weight.

  • Rule number four, provide your pet with enough physical exercise to stay fit and healthy!

Make sure you take your pooch out on adequate daily walks or provide your cat with sufficient exercise whether they are an indoor or an outdoor cat. Every pet is different and requires more or less exercise but we can all agree that each of our furry friends should get at least half an hour to an hour of physical exercise each day.

  • Feed your pet a species appropriate diet.

One of the last thins to mention is raw feeding for our pets.

One of the best ways we can ensure our pets do not become obese is by feeding them a diet that they are built to eat. Our pets are able to thrive on a raw diet whether that be a Prey Model Raw (PMR) or  BARF Biologically Appropriate Raw Feeding or Bones and Raw Food diet. To learn more about starting your pooch on a raw diet then check our raw feeding section and also my post on Raw Feeding for dogs: the basics!

As well as our canine friends our felines are also able to thrive on a raw food diet, maybe even more so than their canine counterparts considering cats are Cats are obligate carnivores, unlike dogs who do have some omnivore characteristics. To learn more about starting your cat on a raw diet check out my post on Raw Feeding for cats: the basics!

Lastly to learn the benefits of starting your pet on a Prey Model Raw or BARF diet then check out my post on The Benefits of Feeding a BARF or PMR diet.

By following these simple steps you can decrease the chances of your pet becoming obese and keep them a healthy weight, to ensure they live a happy and healthy life and are by your side for as many years as possible.

How to know if your pet is obese?

The last thing to talk about is how can you tell if your pet is obese?

Well, this may seem obvious just by looking at an obese animal but there is a way to get a definite answer and this is by performing a Body Conditioning score.

There are lots of different online sites that have charts to help you perform a body conditioning score so you can find out if your pet is underweight, at their ideal weight or overweight.

Most use the same point system and that is

  • 1 – 3 Underweight.

  • 4 – 5 Ideal.

  • 6 – 9 Overweight.

To perform a body conditioning score, simply start by

  • Running your hands down your pets rib cage/chest and you want to be able to easily feel your pet’s ribs but not see them.

If you can feel your pet’s ribs easily then this is good but if you cannot feel your pet’s ribs at all then this means they have too much fat around their rib cage and are most likely overweight or obese.

What we want when feeling their ribs is a minimal fat coverage.

  • Next, we want to feel your pet’s abdomen.

What you want is for their abdomen to taper up like you would see in a lean racing dog say a Grey Hound or Whippet.

If this is not the case for your pet and their belly increases in size and hangs down, then this most likely means they are obese and need to lose some weight to be in optimum health.

  • The last thing to do is to view your pet from above.

Your pet should not look like an oval shape or a rectangle and should have a nice dip in from above.

If this is not the case and when you look at your pet from above they are an oval shape or have some fatty sides sticking out, then I think it is time to stick them on a little diet.

Here is a useful video to help you perform a Body Conditioning Score if you need a little more help, How to Determine Your Dog’s Body Condition Score. As well as this video I found this site pretty useful and it has charts for both cats and dogs, Body Condition Scoring

Thanks for reading this post, I hope you all liked learning about the serious issue our pets are currently facing and how we can help to reduce pet obesity as a whole.

There is no denying that we pet owners are the root cause of most of the poor pets that are plagued with obesity and we owners are the ones who need to step up and do something about it! Because it certainly isn’t our dogs and cats that are the ones opening the fridge at night and stuffing their faces, it’s our fault so let’s own up to it and make a positive change.

If you haven’t checked out last Saturday’s post then head over there now, Homemade Dehydrated Kidney Treats.

Thanks for checking in and be sure to follow/subscribe to the epoch.pet to never miss a post and follow us on social media, or get in touch with us on Facebook @epoch.pet

Weekly posts every Tuesday and Saturday!

2 thoughts on “Obesity and our pets, the shocking truth!

  1. Hi hereforddoodles, that’s great to hear, really glad you found this post helpful and how exciting!! Enjoy every second of it as they don’t stay a puppy for long. Also, If you’re interested in starting your pup on a raw diet at all be sure to check out our raw feeding section on the blog or give me a message and I will be more than happy to help.

    Liked by 1 person

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