NASSAU, BAHAMAS – A person who has gained a few pounds in the past year and a half may not be the only one struggling with their weight; their pet might also face weight gain.
Long days of alternating COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions that kept individuals at home could also have affected their pets.
According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, about 60 percent of cats and 56 percent of dogs in the United States are overweight or obese, with vets concerned that being overweight could have serious well-being consequences. pets and their struggle to regain a healthy weight can be a struggle.
“We say ‘fight’ because it takes two to control your pet’s diet and well-being,” said Dr. Dwight Dorsett, 24-year-old veterinarian at the Nassau Pet Clinic.
“Obesity in pets is a serious illness. It can cause a number of problems, including osteoarthritis; premature aging of bones and joints; high cholesterol level; respiratory dysfunction; urinary tract disease; Cancer; and even dermatological conditions.
“So while you thought you were doing your dog a favor by giving him those extra treats, you may have exacerbated an underlying weight problem that is now more difficult to recover from. But it can be done and we must act as soon as possible before the consequences are more serious. “
Experts say returning to a stable, balanced diet of age-appropriate foods is the first step, along with reading the labels on dog treats and not overfeeding your pet with these treats. The second step is exercise.
“We recommend a wellness checkup with your veterinarian as a priority,” said Nat Davies, director of business operations for the Pet Food Institute (PFI) based in Washington, DC.
“If your dog or cat is obese, like many pets, the vet can help you develop a weight loss plan.
“It requires careful work with a vet, as it’s not always best to just reduce the amount of food you feed at meals. Our message across North America and the Caribbean is to nurture and treat responsibly.
In a PFI-sponsored conference for Caribbean veterinarians – just before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic – Dr Leslie Hancock-Munroe of JM Smucker Co said parents of pets need to understand the signs.
“It’s increasingly common for pet parents to accidentally provide too many high-calorie treats as a way to show their love for their pets, not recognizing the signs of obesity,” the nutritionist said. for small animals, who recognized the difficulty of losing weight in pets. .
“It is important to explain to clients that begging is a learned behavior and is generally not related to nutrition or hunger.
“Veterinarians can support healthy pets by encouraging lifestyles such as regular exercise, responsible treatments and carefully dosed meals. “
The American Kennel Club offers the following recommendation, which the American Heart Association also supports: 150 minutes a week of walking with your pet will unleash the potential for well-being in you and those little ones that you’ve accidentally overfed and under-exercised. It’s 30 minutes a day, five times a week.