SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Lifestyle

May 17, 2013

Vet Connection: The silent epidemic affecting our pets

Veterinarians have estimated that more than 88 million pets are far too heavy, and this tendency toward chubbiness is causing injuries, illnesses and even shortening life spans. Unfortunately, there is a serious disconnection between what veterinarians tell owners and what the owners see in their pets.

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention surveys veterinarians and owners each year to find just how overweight our pets are. Recent surveys have shown that their veterinarians classify 53 percent of dogs and 55 percent of cats as overweight or obese, but 15 to 22 percent of owners see those same pets as normal weight. In the words of the association’s founder, Dr. Ernie Ward, pet owners have now normalized obesity and made fat pets the new normal.

What’s even worse is that despite veterinarians’ warnings, the numbers of fat pets continues to grow. In recent years, the number of pets classified as obese (greater than 30 percent above normal body weight) has increased with each survey. This means that each year greater numbers of pets are at higher risk for a variety of weight-related problems.

Carrying excess pounds can cause pets to develop breathing problems; the extra fat can cause fatty liver disease and aggravate arthritis. The fat molecules are a great source of inflammatory agents, called free radicals, which can aggravate the arthritis or any other inflammatory disease such as asthma or pancreatitis.

Cats are extremely prone to acquiring Type 2 diabetes when they are overweight, and any anesthetic procedure for your pet is automatically more of a risk because of increased body fat.

Above all, excess weight will shorten a pet’s life. A landmark study has shown that pets who take in a limited number of calories live almost two years longer than pets without calorie restriction.

Pet owners are the major gateway both to preventing pets from becoming obese and helping them lose the excess fat. After all, it’s the owner who controls the pet’s access to food.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Lifestyle
  • Dear Abby: Younger couples weigh in on how they handle money Dear Readers: On April 11, I printed a letter from "Wondering in Washington," a man asking why young men in general today have the attitude that "any money I earn is mine" in a marriage or live-in situation. He said when he married, he and his wife c

    July 22, 2014

  • Dear Abby: Dating scene is frustrating for strong young woman Dear Abby: I am a young woman hoping to find "The One." But I have come to realize that I'm not the normal female. I don't get manicures or go shopping. (I hate shopping!) When I meet a guy, he likes that I'm "me," but if we get serious, then I'm eit

    July 21, 2014

  • Monday's Best Bets Best Bets for Monday, July 21

    Looking for something to do today? Here are The Salem News' Best Bets:

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • This weekend's Best Bets Best Bets for Saturday, July 19 and Sunday, July 20

    Looking for something to do this weekend? Check out The Salem News' Best Bets.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • North Shore religion news in brief The Rev. Wesley Williams will be the featured guest for the 9:30 a.m. worship service on Sunday, July 27, at Holy Trinity United Methodist Church, 16 Sylvan St., Danvers. Williams will use the sermon time to lead in the singing of spirituals and give

    July 19, 2014

  • North Shore religion calendar Saturday, July 19 Church Yard Sale, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Our Lady of Fatima Church, 50 Walsh Ave., Peabody. Church-sponsored yard sale features home furnishings, clothing, children's items, furniture and more. Portuguese food will also be available. All

    July 19, 2014

  • North Shore Gardener: Can 10-year-old plant food be used? Q: As I am getting older, my gardening is less and less, but I do have three potted cherry tomato plants on my deck. I wonder if some Vigoro Water Soluble Tomato and Vegetable Plant Food that I have had in my garage for about 10 years would be safe a

    July 18, 2014

  • Dr. Kate's Parent Rap: 6 strategies to help your child build self-advocacy skills As tweens enter middle school, they are expected to manage increased responsibility and independence. Included in this set of expectations is their ability to self-advocate for their needs. Self-advocacy refers to an individual's ability to effective

    July 18, 2014

  • doughboys_2 Book Notes: Author discusses World War I at Wenham Museum All the veterans Richard Rubin interviewed for "The Last of the Doughboys," which was published in 2013, are dead now. Given that his subjects ranged in age from 101 to 113, and he started looking for them in 2003, that is hardly surprising. What re

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • womaninyard Quick pick 'East End Open Studio' An art show featuring the work of 15 artists who all live and work in the East End District of Ipswich is on view this weekend at the Ipswich Moving Company Studio at 2 Cogswell St. in Ipswich. The show is called "East End Open

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

NDN Video
Comments Tracker