Through a 14-year “Life Span” study performed by Purina, it was discovered that maintaining Labradors at their ideal weights increased their life spans by an average of 15 percent—nearly two years. Simply by feeding these dogs 25 percent fewer calories than their littermates, they enjoyed two more years of happy, healthy memories with their families. This study revealed the crucial roles diet, nutrition, and feeding for an ideal body condition play in health and longevity. But, sticking to a diet and exercise regimen to shed those unwanted pounds can be challenging. Dedicate this year to being your pet’s healthiest yet.
How much does obesity cost your pet?
As showcased by the study performed by Purina, we already know that overweight pets are more likely to live shorter lives. But, what other health issues can extra weight lead to? With figures provided by Petplan, a pet medical insurance company, we’ve calculated the average amounts common medical issues can cost pet owners:
- Cancer — Overweight pets, like their human counterparts, are more susceptible to certain cancers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention link 13 cancers in humans with being overweight or obese. And, just like in humans, the number of overweight or obese pets is on the rise. To treat your pet for cancer, Petplan estimates the average cost will be $2,033.
- Joint injuries — Even a few extra pounds can add significant stress to your pet’s joints, with knees being the most commonly affected and costing an average of $3,480 to treat. Tearing the cranial cruciate ligament in one knee puts even more pressure on the remaining hind leg. Add in excess weight, and you’ve got the perfect recipe to double that treatment cost when the other knee gives out.
- Urinary tract infections — Overweight females are more likely to have difficulties cleaning those hard-to-reach places, or folds of fat may trap in bacteria, leading to urinary tract infections (UTI). Petplan estimates the cost of a UTI to be around $590.
- Heart disease — In overweight pets, the heart and circulatory system is working overtime, leading to heart disease and high blood pressure. To treat cardiac conditions, you’re looking at around $1,232.
- Back problems — Long bodies and short legs can spell out disaster for backs, especially when your slim dachshund turns into a bloated sausage. These long-bodied pooches are already prone to intervertebral disc disease, which can cost an average of $2,033 to treat.
How can you keep your pet at a healthy weight?
We know, it’s tough to maintain a healthy weight, whether you have two legs or four. Follow these steps to help your pet get and stay healthy:
- Measure out portions — When rationing out your pet’s meals, remember that a cup is an actual measuring cup. Toss out the coffee mug or large soda cup to ensure accurate measuring.
- Choose the appropriate diet — Pet foods are formulated for different life stages, from kitten or puppyhood to adult maintenance to senior diets. Pick the diet that suits your pet’s current needs best.
- Show your love without treats — Instead of doling out treats every time your pet looks adorable (which is obviously all the time), show your furry friend how much you love her by interacting in different ways. Play a game, engage in a grooming session, or sneak in some physical activity rather than ply your pet with calorie-laden snacks.
- Exercise — Ideally, all pets, including cats, should participate in at least 20 to 30 minutes of activity daily. Go for a walk, play a game of fetch, or use a laser pointer or feather toy to get your pet up and moving every day.
- Veterinary visit — If your furry friend falls into the overweight category—like a majority of the nation’s pets—schedule a vet visit. We will examine your pet for any signs of disease that can contribute to weight gain, such as hypothyroidism, diabetes, or arthritis. Plus, we can help enroll your pet in our Biggest Loser contest!
Biggest Loser contest
Battle the bulge by registering your pet for our Biggest Loser weight loss contest, a three-month event dedicated to helping your chubby cat or pudgy pooch find her sleek figure again. Our highly anticipated Biggest Loser contest includes:
- An individualized weight loss plan for each pet, including diet, treats, and appropriate activities to shed unwanted pounds
- Free food and treats at monthly weigh-ins
- Grand prize for the biggest loser
- Extra years added to your pet’s life by keeping her at an ideal body condition
What’s stopping you from signing up?
Make your pet a winner by being the biggest loser. Give us a call to sign your pet up to participate in our Biggest Loser weight loss contest.