time youíre at the vet, you need to look your vet in
the eye and say: "Doc, give it to me straight.
my pet fat?"
then donít freak out if the answer is, "Yes, Iím
glad you mentioned that, Iíve been meaning to tell you
estimated that as many as 59 percent of the nationís
cats and 54 percent of its dogs are struggling with
obesity, according to veterinarian Ernie Ward, founder
of the Assn. for Pet Obesity Prevention, and author of
the book "Chow Hounds: Why Our Dogs Are Getting
actually think the numbers are higher," Ward said,
and that vets are underreporting and sidestepping the
problem lest they risk offending clients.
pugs and fat cats may get lots of "likes" on
social media, but thereís nothing amusing about pet
obesity, which can dramatically shorten a petís life
by contributing to crippling arthritis, Type 2 diabetes,
high blood pressure, kidney failure and a variety of
you love your pet, "one the most important things
you can do is keep your pet at a healthy weight,"
first step is having a frank discussion with your vet
and figuring out an appropriate plan for feeding your
pet and doling out the right amount of treats. (Thereís
no way weíre going to stop giving our pets treats!)
up, though, is the fun part: exercising with your pet to
burn off calories and pent-up energy, and bringing out
its inner wild child. Here are Wardís tips:
YOU HAVE A CAT
donít Ďjogí ó they are built for short spurts of
energy that unleash their inner predator," he said.
Think nature documentaries, where the cheetah goes
full-out to capture its prey and then spends the rest of
the afternoon snoozing and recharging.
suggests using laser pointers and remote-control toys to
drive your cat insane for three to five minutes of play
at a time, working up to three or four sessions a day,
for a total of about 20 minutes of play each day.
addition, he suggests placing a few boxes around the
house and other toys your cat can use to hide in and
leap out at you as you are walking by.
also plays "hide the food" with his cats,
placing some of their food in little bowls and secreting
them around the house each day. Itís kittyís job to
get to kind of stalk their Ďpreyí" and burn off
some calories in the process.
YOU HAVE A DOG
contrast to cats, dogs need longer workouts to help them
reset their energy levels, Ward said.
does not mean you should take a dog that has been a
couch potato and try to make it run five miles behind
is a recipe for disaster," he said.
aim to condition your dog (and yourself) by working your
way up to a brisk 30 minutes of walking each day, or two
15-minute walks. Start out with leisurely walks of about
10 minutes apiece, and increase time and intensity by
about 10 percent each week until you hit your goal.
you donít have the time, consider hiring a dog walker
or a college kid or a neighbor who could use a
four-legged walking buddy. Doggie day care services are
also want to get in some ball playing, or Frisbee time
with your dog, so it can get in a little harder running
and jumping, if its health allows, Ward said.