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How to extend your dog (or cat’s) life

April 24, 2012

My clients come in a variety of shapes and sizes. A few of them came to me overweight and are working to achieve an ideal body condition. They’re not alone. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), an estimated 54% of dogs and cats in the United States are overweight or obese! What’s worse, many pet owners don’t even realize their pet is overweight.

So what is an ideal body weight? Nestle Purina has developed a body condition system, which is a widely accepted guide aimed at helping owners determine if their dog is too heavy, too thin, or just right.

Purina Body Condition Score chart for dogs

Purina Body Condition score chart for cats

Perhaps you’ve identified that your dog or cat is too heavy. What’s the big deal, you ask? Obesity in pets can lead to a number of health problems including (courtesy of the APOP):

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Heart and Respiratory Disease
  • Cranial Cruciate Ligament Injury
  • Kidney Disease
  • Many Forms of Cancer

If that isn’t enough to convince you, consider the fact that overweight pets have a life expectancy on average two years shorter than  pets that maintain an ideal weight. I don’t know about you, but I would do whatever it takes to gain an extra two years with my beloved pets. In fact, I firmly believe  the reason Crenshaw is as healthy as he is at nearly 12 years old is because he has maintained an ideal body weight, eaten a quality diet, and received plenty of exercise during his lifetime.

Crenshaw, two months shy of his 12th birthday.

If your pet is currently at his or her ideal weight, keep up the good work. However, if your dog or cat is overweight, don’t despair. It’s never too late to get them started on a sensible weight loss plan that includes both calorie restriction and exercise. Your veterinarian is your best source of information, but here is an excellent article I came across a couple years ago when Lizzie was recovering from TPLO surgery.

The thing that always stuck with me about this article is the part about “a hungry dog is a hungry dog.” All of my dogs can be classified as “hungry dogs” but Lizzie is the worst! In the dog training world we use the term “food motivated.” Lizzie is beyond food motivated… she’s food obsessed! If there is food anywhere, she’s there! I think you get the point.

Lizzie, 9 years old

I don’t believe that anyone intentionally sets out to make their pet fat… it just happens. But through a conscientious effort it is possible to achieve and maintain your pet’s ideal body weight. Your pet’s health depends on it, and aren’t they worth it?

To learn more about The Jogging Dog and the exercise options I offer, please visit my website.

Additional resources:

  1. Im curious to know what kind of food you feed your dogs? (Please dont say Purina)

    • Currently I feed them Nature’s Domain Turkey & Sweet Potato (grain free) mixed with Nature’s Recipe Farmstand Selects.

      • Thanks! I feed grain free as well. (Orijin) I find it works well for goldens because of all the skin/ear infections they are normally prone to. Haven’t had problems with either one.

      • My golden is allergic to cats and Bermuda grass so I give him fish oil caps every day which really helps. I’ve also found in the past that he tends to get quite gassy if I feed him food with corn or wheat

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