Pet Obesity and Its Challenges

Pet Obesity and Its Challenges

Pet obesity is something I know a few things about. Am I proud that I know much about the causes, effects, and challenges that come with having an obese pet?

No. And yes.

No, because to that means I once had an obese pet.

Yes, because I did something about it and my dog is healthier for of it.

According to The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention

“Obesity continues to be the greatest health threat to dogs and cats.” states APOP Founder, veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward. In the October 2016 clinical survey, 53.9% of dogs and 58.9% of cats were classified as overweight (body condition score (BCS) 4) or obese (BCS 5) by their veterinary healthcare professional. That equals an estimated 41.9 million dogs and 50.5 million cats are too heavy, based on 2016 pet population projections provided by the American Pet Products Association (APPA). In 2015, APOP found 53.8% of dogs and 58.2% were overweight or obese.
Pet Obesity and Its Challenges

Association for Pet Obesity Prevention

What I am hoping to achieve by continuing to share my (dog’s) story and the challenges I faced living with an overweight dog?

My hope is to offer encouragement and support to other pet owners who are facing the same challenges I did. Maybe even answer some of the same questions I had.

  • Some may say, “Just don’t feed your pet so much” – Honestly, if it were only that easy!
  • There is NO quick fix
  • It WILL take time
  • You and your pet WILL face challenges along the way
  • You WILL need support and guidance along what will definitely be a journey
  • The journey does NOT end once the weight is off!
  • The benefits WILL outweigh (sorry for the pun) the challenges

You can read my previous posts, documenting my (dog’s) journey that took two years. The first step of that journey came from me (the owner) finally facing the fact my dog was obese. Along the way I learned who could help and assist me with the challenges we met along the way, especially on days I felt overwhelmed with a constantly demanding and begging dog.

Over the next several weeks I will be covering the following topics:

  1. How does obesity in a pet happen?
  2. How to identify an obese/overweight pet
  3. Where to begin/who can help?
  4. What steps to take
  5. The challenges faced by pet owners (the challenges faced by vets)
  6. The side effects facing your pet
  7. The benefits of weight loss in obese pets

If you would like to share your story/challenges/success of having an overweight dog or pet, we want to hear from you!

Please connect with me at: kelly@ilovemydogmorethanmykids.com 

Author: Kelly Harding with Edie The Pug

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30 Comments

  1. This is going to be such an important series for pet parents to read! When I worked at the vet hospital, it was very difficult to have these conversations with pet parents. Often, because they didn’t believe that a few pounds actually made that much of a difference. Not knowing that a few pounds on the scale can be a significant percentage weight increase. I look forward to your upcoming posts!

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    • From discussions I’ve had with vets and vet technicians, they would agree with you that bringing up the topic of a pet being over weight to a pet owner is, and can be very challenging. It can be a sensitive subject, but its’s my belief that our vets are only looking our for the health of our pets and wanting what we want – a happy healthy pet.

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  2. I tend to keep my pups very active, and slim with a solid diet that I keep track of. My husband thinks I’m nuts lol, but I’m attentive so I don’t have to worry about the added stressors on their large bodies and joints as they age! Worth it!

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    • You are so right about the stress on their bodies and joints carrying around excess weight. I don’t think you’re nuts at all about being so attentive 🙂

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  3. Good for you accepting that your dog was over weight! My mom refused to admit that Taffy was obese and that the vet never said anything about it to her. For us the journey was simple, once she no longer got table scraps, was fed high quality food and taken on daily walks, she went for 40lbs to 21lbs in a matter of months. She couldn’t even go up the stairs when we first brought her home now she runs up and down them. This is such an important topic thanks for covering it!

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    • What an amazing transformation – 40lbs to 21lbs! I bet Taffy feels fantastic now. What reason do you think it was that the vet never said anything about the excess weight?

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      • Knowing my mom they probably said a lot but most likely she ignored them or didn’t hear what they said as she was practically deaf.

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  4. I remember being shocked when I heard how many dogs are overweight a few years ago doing research for our Fit Dogs Rock episode. I myself love food and could lose a few pounds. I now face the constant challenge of an adorable greedy little pug who definitely equates food with love and happiness. It’s awesome that you took the weight loss journey with Edie and she is now in great shape.Thanks for sharing.

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  5. What an important topic and I’m excited to read through the series of posts coming up. There are many folks in the mastiff and giant breed world who try to grow their puppies real big, real fast and that can be so detrimental to them long term. It is better to slow down the growth and keep the dog lean (as best you can).

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  6. Pet obesity is the major cause of a lot of illnesses. And many of us are in denial that our pets are obese and it is OUR fault. I inherited my mom’s two cocker spaniels which were very obese since she often forgot that she fed them. Buffy looked like a fat pig when I got her and was at the highest level on the obesity scale. I have gotten her weight down, but have to watch her since she easily gains weight.

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    • It’s not uncommon for people to forget they have fed their dog and double up, especially when you have a dog that seems to be constantly hungry/begging, or if your pets are fed by more than one person and one doesn’t realize that someone else has already fed them.

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  7. I struggle with this a bit with my cat, Lexy. She’s just on the cusp of being obese. My vet said she should not gain any more weight and I’m trying my best to keep her at her current weight.

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  8. Obesity happens too easily. And while it’s mostly blamed on people giving too many treats and sharing table food, there is more at play. Firstly, most kibble has too much carbs and some evidence is emerging that is a problem in itself (the effect of carb/protein levels on gut flora and gut flora’s effect on weight loss/gain). And the food companies are to blame even directly with their recommended amounts (a study on that problem was always done).

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    • My experience was that I was not feeding Edie the proper amount, her not getting the exercise she needed and finding the proper food that addressed her issues. With the help of my vet, we were able to find a product that worked well, addressed Edie’s hunger and kept her satisfied while improving her health. I believe the amounts on bags of food are “recommended” and sometimes we need to adjust to make it work for our individual pet. I believe when this does not work, it’s important to make sure there are no other(health) issues going on with our pet by consulting a professional, and that we are truly and honestly feeding (amounts) what we say we are feeding.

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  9. As someone who has struggled with a personal weight problem for the past 30+ years, I can understand the problems and successes with weight loss. I’m lucky my cats have all been a healthy weight.

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    • Sometimes I joke that I wish I could be as strong for myself as I am when it comes to my dogs health and weight.

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  10. Thank you – this is so helpful! Our Lyla isn’t obese but she is on the verge of being overweight. Part of the issue is her mobility is not good. She can’t RUN and really get the work out she deserves. You are right though it’s not that easy! She is doing a lot better on her new food though!

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    • I’m so happy that Lyla is doing better on her new food and that you are keeping an eye on her! I found such a difference in Edie’s activity and mobility as she began to loose the weight.

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  11. Great article and I watch Layla like a hawk weight wise as I see in the park so many over weight dogs it is just so sad and when I speak to them about it they look at me as if I am crazy. Since Layla is on Grandma Lucy’s actually her weight has really stayed the same which is great, she is full of energy like a puppy not an 11 year old, healthy and my vet is really happy with her.

    This is a topic that everyone should discuss and learn about as we are all watching our health and weight so why not do it for our dogs too.

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  12. Such an important topic! Things happen, it’s all about whether or not you decide to do something about it. Good for you for putting in the hard work and sharing your journey with others!

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  13. Agree 100% that it takes time and it’s not always easy. Our Dot Kitten was a real couch potatoe and hardly moved. Then we took away her treat food and replaced it with healthier options. The difference is eye opening, she is active, busy and more pro-active with us. Weight loss works for humans AND for pets too!!

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    • Treats play a part in our pets weight. Honestly it gives us pleasure as pet parents to spoil out pets by giving them a treat, and of course our pets won’t refuse! I find that we can still “treat” our pets as long as we remember to take that treat into consideration when feeding them their regular meals.

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  14. Thanks for writing about a topic that is unfortunately a bit too common these days. I definitely see the difference nowadays when I would go to the vet you used to see pamphlets about getting vaccines and rabies. Nowadays you see posters and pamphlets on the walls about obesity in cats and dogs. I look forward to reading your follow up posts on how you helped your dog combat the battle of the bulge.

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    • Pet obesity has hit an all time high and it’s not just “about the number on the scale”, it’s the side effects and health issues associated with it.

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  15. Pet obesity is definitely a very common issue in pet health. It’s not easy to change and get the weight under control. I’ve been fortunate not to have ever had obese pets – of course looking at me you’d never think that, LOL!! I’m so careful about food, treats, & exercise with my dogs and I can control my dogs’ weight beautifully, now if only I could do that for myself……
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

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  16. Your willingness to chart your and Edie’s journey is commendable. Having a pet isn’t just about the fun stuff or the cute pictures. It’s a commitment to doing what is best for them even when (especially when!) your pet may not understand why or what you’re doing.

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    • Thank you. There is so much more to having a pet then just the cute and cuddly stuff, although that is the best part 😉 I’m sure Edie had no idea what was going on, I know she wasn’t begging “just because”, she was truly hungry and I had to find a solution that would work for her and better her health.

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  17. Mr. N runs slim (we should all have his metabolism) but we had a foster dog who was overweight. He constantly tried to steal food but it otherwise wasn’t difficult for us. Maybe because we were used to monitoring Mr. N’s diet.

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  18. This post is SOOOO important for every pet owner to read. Biggest thing to remember is ….NO QUICK FIX. Looking forward to reading more of your posts to come!!!!!

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  19. Agreed pet obesity is on the rise and it is hard to overcome. I am very strict about my dog’s weight and food intake, my vet and I try our best to keep on top of it because large breed dogs are prone to hip, joint, and CCL problems already. Additional weight makes it much riskier.

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