Like with humans, there are numerous risks associated with excess weight for pets. These risks include osteoporosis, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, and cancer – just to name a few. It is interesting to see how closely these risks mirror the effects of obesity among humans. Indulging canine friends with treats or table scraps might seem like a demonstration of love, but in the end, it's only hurting the animal.
A study by Pfizer showed that 47% of veterinarians felt their canine patients were obese, while only 17% of dog owners agreed. This suggests many pet owners are turning a blind eye to their pet’s needs – allowing for extra caloric intake and decreased physical activity rather than institute a disciplined nutrition/exercise routine. Many pet food manufacturers are cashing in on the “fat pet” phenomenon. Last fall, Nestle Purina launched "Project: Pet Slim Down"– an online tool designed to help pets achieve 1% to 2% weekly weight loss through regular exercise, stricter diet, and progress reports.
Exercise, for both pets and their owners, is often the most difficult healthy habit to maintain. Large dogs, for example, need to be walked about 2-3 miles each day to stay fit, yet most humans fail to get in more than a mile or two themselves throughout the course of the day. Regular dog-walking can be a great way to keep both your waistline and your pet’s in check.
Ultimately, for pets and owners alike, the only way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you take in.