Pets: Purina and Jenny Craig create program to help address pet obesity
flickr photo by Tobyotter
One thing that invariably comes up in conversation whether I'm talking with those who share life with animals (or if they are clinicians), is an epidemic that is costing pets and their humans big: obesity.
A study by the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention estimates that 55 percent of dogs and 54 percent of cats are either overweight or obese.
Not a health condition in itself as one might be led to think (it's a result of indulgent behavior, really), obesity in pets can be managed — even avoided — with mindfulness and care.
With pets, I'll often hear how a pet looks when it comes to their weight problem. The real issue isn't skin deep — it what's happening on the inside that's scary. Complications from carrying extra weight like arthritis and a shortened lifespan are troubling and unnecessary.
Barring any chronic medical conditions (for example, Cushing's syndrome), the cause of obesity in pets is simple: humans.
We control what our pets eat, from the quality of food to the quantity. Pets don't become obese on their own.
Yes, I know, they "look" hungry, they love treats, they beg. In truth, we love to indulge our pets. It feels good to see their gleeful expressions when we give them food.
The amount of food that actually need is surprising.
I cannot tell you the number of times that I've been at the vet's office and heard staff say to a client, "Here's a measuring cup, marked with the proper amount of food that your dog/cat needs. They need X number of cups per day. That's all."
The aghast expressions of the client always gets me.
Coupled with the excess food intake, the lack of activity that most pets get each day, greatly contributes to the numbers of pudgy pets.
Less food, more activity. (Does this equation sound familiar?)
Two well-known companies are working to get pet owners on board when it comes to taking responsibility for their pet's weight problem.
Purina and Jenny Craig are collaborating on a program that will help make it easier, with online tools and educational materials. Project Pet Slim Down is an interactive program that enables people to team up with their veterinarians to achieve the weight management goals that they've set for their pets in an engaging and mindful way.
Click here for more information on Project Pet Slim Down.