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In a society obsessed with eating healthy and hitting the gym, it’s hard to believe that pet owners aren’t aware of the growing obesity epidemic among pets. Obesity is a risk that can set a pet up for numerous health problems. The unfortunate consequences of obesity for dogs and cats include high blood pressure, breathing problems, diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, heat intolerance, osteoarthritis, reproductive problems, ligament injuries, decreased stamina, and even a variety of cancer and decreased life expectancy (approximately by 2.5 years).
From poodles to beagles, British Shorthairs to Siamese cats, the obesity epidemic affects pets everywhere. If your clients have overweight animals, there are many ways you can help them get their beloved fur babies to a healthy weight. From eating a lower calorie diet and maintaining proper hydration, to engaging in active play and walk time, just like humans, getting a pet to be fit takes a little discipline and determination. The following are some of the best ways to help your clients end the pet obesity epidemic once and for all.
Keep Track of Your Pet’s Weight
Because checkups typically happen only once a year, and a pet can gain a significant amount of weight in between vet visits, pet owners may not even realize a weight problem exists. Only when the pet gets on the scale at the vet do they become aware of an issue. Additionally, obesity is not simply an appearance issue. Body condition score and real scientific measurements are what truly matter in determining a pet’s health. Besides regularly weighing their pet, your clients can look for physical clues of an overweight pet such as not being able to see a pet’s waist or feel their ribs.
Encourage More Frequent Vet Visits
If your client has an overweight pet, they shouldn’t wait a full year before returning to see you again. A physical exam and other relevant tests more frequently can help ensure that a pet’s numbers are in a healthy range.
Just as many humans regularly read nutrition labels and ingredients, encourage your clients to take initiative and know what is going into the food their pets eat. They should consistently check the nutritional content and be cautious of claims that have no merit. Clients should look for excess fat, sugars, sodium, processed and artificial ingredients in pet food. They should also be aware of their carnivorous pets eating food with too many grains. These high-carbohydrate foods are not only unnatural for a pet needing mostly protein, but it can lead to excess weight gain. Be sure to remind your clients to be aware of where their pet may be getting extra food. Whether they rummage through the garbage or are getting table scraps or extra treats, all of those excess calories can really add up.
Schedule Regular Meal Times
It should go without saying, that if a pet is overweight, your clients should not leave a bowl of food out for them 24/7. Clients should schedule regular meal times and keep track of when their pet eats. Some pets will eat even when they are not hungry because 1. The food is available 2. It tastes good. 3. They are bored.
Keep ‘em Moving
Pets need regular exercise. While some may need more than others, all pets should get at least 20 minutes of exercise a day. Simply taking a pet out for a quick walk to do their “business” is not enough. This is especially true for overweight pets. Encourage your clients to play with their pets and keep them active. This is not just a good idea to keep them at a healthy weight, but to keep them mentally active as well.
Like human medications, some pet medications can contribute to weight gain. Whether your client’s pet is taking medications you or another vet prescribed, be sure to be aware of what medications the pet is taking and determine if they’re necessary. Over-prescribing medications is not healthy for an obese or healthy weight pet.
Obesity is a serious problem and an issue that needs to be addressed as soon as possible in order for the pet to get on a healthy path. Overall, a pet owner is responsible for their pet’s health and we are here to help you connect with your clients in such a way that contributes to the health and well-being of their pets. With our vast veterinary office products, prescription stickers, reminder cards, and so much more, you can ensure that your clients, and their pets, are given the best care and customer service possible – year after healthy year.