Here’s a statistic that might surprise you: Minnesota has the highest rate of overweight dogs and cats in the nation, according to a report issued by Banfield Pet Hospital.
But according to the 2012 State of Pet Health report Minnesota isn’t alone: the prevalence of overweight cats and dogs nationwide is on the uptick. The number of overweight dogs in the United States has increased by 37 percent over the last five years and the number of overweight cats has increased 90 percent.
“Obesity in our pet population is an enormous problem,” said Joan Smith, a veterinary nutrition technician at the University of Minnesota’s Veterinary Medical Center.
According to Smith, pet owners might have to get creative to combat excess pounds.
“If your dog is just a little overweight (which comes out to one extra pound or less for a twenty pound dog), losing weight may be as simple as an additional 5-10 minutes of exercise a day,” said Smith.
“If you have a cat that is very food-motivated, you can put her food in a dish and have her follow you around the house before you feed her as a form of exercise. Or you can put her food in a treat ball so she has to chase it.”
A Body Condition Score Chart can help you recognize if your dog or cat is overweight. Similar to the Body Mass Index (BMI) for humans, when it comes to a dog or cat’s shape, it’s the hourglass figure we’re after when looking at your pet from above.
Need further motivation to keep your pet moving?
Exercise and the maintenance of a healthy lean body weight not only helps prevent the onset of arthritis, heart disease, diabetes and respiratory problems, but it also helps your pet live longer.