YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Fitness centers around the Valley have been bustling with people trying to shed a few holiday pounds, but keeping an eye on weight gain is important for pets, too.
The winter can be hard for pets and pet owners. The shortened days and cold weather can prevent regular outdoor exercise.
According to the Association for Pet Obesity and Prevention, an estimated 58 percent of cats and 54 percent of dogs are overweight. Veterinarian Brandt Athey with Austintown Veterinary Clinic says pets carrying extra weight puts stress on their joints and can be more difficult for them to get around. It can also lead to torn ligaments.
Athey says a pet’s weight is not always a number on the scale but how they look.
“It’s really useful to touch and feel the pet to make sure there is not too much pet between you and the ribs when you feed the side, that there is a nice abdominal tuck when you look at them and that from the top down there is a waist,” Athey said.
Exercise is important to the health of your pet, but diet may play a bigger role when it comes to weight gain. Athey says owners should measure pet food and recommends scheduled feeding times rather than leaving food out all day. He also cautions against diet pet foods.
“The problem that we have with some of the low calorie or weight-loss foods is they might contain more calories than the food you were feeding previously. The calorie content of even weight-loss food is really variable,” Athey said.
Athey says to compare the calorie count of your current pet food with that of the weight-loss type and keep pet treats at a minimum.