Is it a potato, a loaf of bread, or your pet!? Advice for overweight pets

  • Published
  • By Capt. Christina Elder, DVM
  • Offutt AFB Veterinary Treatment Facility

In October we take time to bring awareness to pet obesity. I am not in the business of shaming or judging owners if your pet is overweight. Let’s face it, the easiest way to give them love is through food! When Fluffy is wagging her tail at you with those big pretty eyes, it can be hard to say no to that extra piece of bacon. As time goes on, though, you may notice Fluffy looking a little extra fluffier than normal.

Did you know that almost 60% of the American pet population is overweight or obese? And did you know that if your pet is overweight, it can lessen their lifespan by 2.5 years? As hard as it is to restrict calorie intake for your furry friend, it is in their best interest for long-term health and is a way to love them better.

There are so many benefits to keeping our pets at a normal, healthy weight. They are more playful and active, have fewer joint issues, and are at less risk for metabolic disorders such as diabetes. You should be able to feel the ribs on your pet easily and they should have a nice ‘tuck’ to their belly. If you notice an extra giggle on Fluffy, it may be time to ask yourself a few questions: Am I feeding too much? How many treats does she get in a day? Am I feeding healthy treats? How often do we go on walks or have play time together?

To get the most out of your bond with Fluffy, take her for extra walks and have at least 10 minutes of play time every day. Extra outdoors time is great for you, too! Feed healthy treats such as low sodium green beans, ice cubes, plain Greek yogurt, or pumpkin puree for dogs and lean meat such as chicken pieces or dried liver for cats. And as always, if you’re struggling to get the weight off, make an appointment with your vet to determine a proper diet and calorie intake for Fluffy. We are here to support you in your pet’s weight loss journey; it is the most gratifying thing to see when we hear owners say how much more energy their pet has after a few months on a good diet plan. If we see your pet, you are also more than welcome to come in for a free weight check and a healthy treat to monitor their progress.

Capt. Christina Elder is the Army veterinarian working for the Offutt AFB Veterinary Treatment Facility. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this article, or if you would like to schedule an appointment for your pet, please call the clinic at 402-294-6141. The clinic is open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (closed from 12 p.m.-1p.m. for lunch). Appointments are available for any active duty or retired military personnel.

We hope to see you and your furry friend soon!