veterinarian assistant weighs a bulldog, Biff, at
DTLAvets in Los Angeles. According to the latest
study from the Association for Pet Obesity
Prevention, more than 50 percent of the nation's
cats, and dogs, are overweight.
is not the only fat cat around.
to the Assn. for Pet Obesity Prevention, more than 50
percent of the nationís cats and dogs are overweight.
And just as concerning, more than 90 percent of their
owners donít recognize that their pet is carrying
around extra pounds.
automatically think a fat cat is a happy cat," says
Ernie Ward, owner of Seaside Animal Care in Calabash,
N.C. "But itís not cute. Itís killing."
founded the organization in 2005 after realizing that
many veterinarians were not talking to pet owners about
obesity. Ten years later, he says, vets are finally
having those necessary conversations.
an emotional land mine," Ward says. "You donít
know when youíre going to step on the wrong button
because people inherently have a problem with questions
(about how theyíre) feeding pets because we equate
love with food and treats."
unlike humans, pets can face obesity because of too much
food and too little exercise, says Eve Flores, a
veterinarian and co-owner of DTLAvets with Leia
animals are more prone to a host of health conditions,
including arthritis, high blood pressure and blindness.
are some suggestions from Ward, Flores and Castaneda for
pet owners looking to improve petsí health:
pet owners do not take their dogs or cats to the
veterinarian until something is wrong. "We canít
practice preventive medicine if weíre not seeing the
pets," Flores says.
should be seen by the veterinarian at least once a year
for the doctor to evaluate the animals ó and educate
most important decision a pet owner makes every day is
what they feed their pet," Ward says.
encourages pet owners to look at the ingredients listed
on food packages. If any of the first three items is
unpronounceable or hard to understand, donít buy it.
attention to the amount youíre actually feeding your
dog," Castaneda says, adding that owners should be
aware that treats have calories too. She also says that
diet food and pet foods that are grain free or raw have
become marketing tools more than healthful alternatives.
uses a simple equation to get through to his clients:
"Fat equals inflammation, which equals disease
which equals early death." To avoid that, exercise
is a must, he says. "It is as simple as walking
your dog 30 minutes a day, interacting with your cat for
five minutes three times a day."
adds that extending normal walking or play times by 10
minutes can do the trick.