I know, I know…we’re going into the best time of the year (if you love to eat!)  Halloween is going to be here in a couple of weeks, then Thanksgiving and then holiday parties and then Christmas/Hanukkah…..and then January, when we all sit around and wonder how we spent three months eating, relatively non-stop!

Well, our pets suffer from the same affliction- recent studies show that obesity in our pets has grown, just as our own waistlines have grown (as a nation) and the same issues that you and I see when we are carrying too much weight are also affecting our pets.

Purina did a study recently that showed that dogs that were fed 20% more than what they required lived two years LESS than their appropriately fed littermates.  That is two years that you won’t have your dog with you….and of course, those heavier dogs also suffered from more cases of osteoarthritis and diabetes and cancer…all related to the increase in their food intake.  For the record, these dogs were not considered OBESE, either, they were just about 10-15% over their ideal weight.   The obese pets have even further issues.

Many of our cats are living indoors exclusively now.  While this often makes for a healthier, longer life with our kitties, often these indoor-only cats are substantially heavier as well.  And getting weight off of cats can be even more challenging than getting weight off of dogs.  Of course, our kitties suffer the same arthritis, diabetes, skin disease (can’t groom), urinary tract disease and respiratory issues that our dogs suffer.

So, of course prevention is the best cure- be very mindful of how much your pet is eating.  We weigh your pet every time they come in the hospital, and I will discuss their weight with you, if it is an issue- it is part of every wellness exam, because overweight pets are not as healthy as they could be.

Remember, what you are feeding your pets matters- just because he’s on a “healthy weight” or “diet” food, doesn’t mean it is necessarily the appropriate food for your pet.  Did you know that foods that say “lowfat/reduced fat/reduced calorie” do not actually have ANY meaning and that those terms do not actually have to be proven.  Only foods that say LIGHT/LITE/LOW CALORIE are truly regulated and proven to have less calories, but are still appropriately balanced for complete wellness for your pet.

Treats count, too! Just as much as we’d like NOT to count our Starbucks coffee drinks as calories, we all know they do count….and same with our pets.  Did you know that Milk Bones are the caloric equivalent to a candy bar for dogs? Even the little ones- they are just the small, Halloween sized candy bars.  And often many dogs get more than one Milk Bone a day.  So keep the treats to fruits and vegetables and if you are going to treat your dog, do so in moderation, and adjust what  is going into his food bowl accordingly!

So, while we are all thinking about getting and staying healthy, don’t forget your four-legged family member, too….take your dog for another walk….give him a carrot, not a Milk Bone…and engage your cat in more play activity- let’s all get MOVING! and let’s work on our waistlines!!

Happy Halloween everyone!