Is Your Pet Chubby?

Thursday, July 21, 2011 - 10:45am

These days, humans aren't the only ones fighting the battle of the bulge. Really, it’s no joke: More than half of America's pets are overweight. While there is little doubt that these roly-poly companions are cuter than cupcakes, obesity is a medical problem that can seriously affect their health. Chubby pets are at a higher risk of diabetes, liver problems, joint pain—and even heart failure.

Enough said. If you’re the proud parent of a portly pet, it’s time to kick off a diet.

- Cut the Calories. Bottom line: Overweight animals eat more calories than they should. Work with your veterinarian to determine your pet’s caloric requirements and stick to a proper feeding schedule.

- Go easy with the treats—they contain a lot of unnecessary calories. If your pet begs between meals, give him a little extra lovin’, not food.

- Break it up. Instead of one big meal, try feeding your pet several small meals throughout the day. (This will help alleviate some of your guilt, too.)

- Get moving. Nothing burns calories quite like a good game of fetch—except maybe chasing a catnip mouse. Regular exercise burns more calories, reduces appetite, changes body composition and will increase your pet’s resting metabolic rate. Can’t beat that!

For more great pet health tips, visit the ASPCA Pet Care section.