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Animal Welfare Association of New Jersey

Pet Issues and Care Articles

Pet Obesity

We’re all spending more time at home, especially with social distancing measures taking affect around the country.  With the constantly evolving pandemic, our stress levels are extremely high, and we have fewer and fewer healthy outlets for that stress. Being stressed and stuck at home can lead to extra snack breaks, more screen time, and less time outside. Our pets share these stresses with us and help us cope, but sometimes there are unintended consequences to sharing our lives so closely. Over 55% of America’s pet population is already classified as overweight, and these pets, just like their people, are at increased risk of diseases including diabetes and arthritis as well as having a shortened lifespan1.

https://petobesityprevention.org/news/petobesityinformation 

So What can I do?

Factor 1 – Food

Assess what you are giving your animal on a daily basis – That includes their daily kibble as well as treats (AND it includes those little bits of our human food we share with our pets.) Those little bits of our shared daily meal can add up to a major calorie increase to our pets. And the more we are spending time at home today, the more we are sharing those meals with our pets.

Reduce the treats! – Most dog treats on the market are high in calories and not nutritious (just like our bag of chips! )

–  Substitute – giving our dogs treats throughout the day is an important part of our human animal bond. Two great options: 

  1. For animals who love their diet – Measure out your pet’s diet for the entire day. The daily food container is then the only source of food for your pet throughout the day. Any treats can come from this container.
  2. Grab a healthy snack for you and your pet!
    1. Whenever you are ready for a snack, even if you grab some chips for yourself – bring a little bowl of a healthy vegetable as well to share with your dog. Look to carrots and peas for a sweet treat for you both!

Factor 2: Exercise – What’s the role of exercise? It’s HUGE!

Take more walks with your dog. It will benefit your dog as much as it will benefit your sense of connection to nature and generally reduce stress. If you haven’t been on a walk lately, start off slow with a short around the block walk and then gradually increase.

Don’t forget about your cats as well! Cats can be positively trained to take walks as well. However, for most of our feline friends, 15 minute focused play sessions with a wand toy 2-3 times a day is a fantastic addition to their daily routine. 

Try adding these tips into your daily routine and get the whole family involved! You’ll be on your way to having a healthier and happier family!

Have a question for the vet on how to help your pet fight obesity during a pandemic? Leave a comment and we will work to address your questions in a follow up video!

Footnotes:

  1. https://petobesityprevention.org/news/petobesityinformation