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Is Fido Fat? It's National Pet Obesity Awareness Day

Twin Cities pet experts agree chunky pets a problem. Here are tips to know when the family pet is fat.

Is your Fido fat? What about Kitty or Princess? Are they on the verge of losing one of their nine lives?

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention says an estimated 54 percent of U.S. cats and dogs are considered to be overweight or obese, according to a news statement from BluePearl Veterinary Partners, a group of specialty and emergency hospitals across the eastern and central U.S. whose clinics include Eden Prairie and Blaine.

BluePearl is publicizing the pet problem today (Wednesday, Oct. 10) on  National Pet Obesity Awareness Day. 

 “These numbers are absolutely staggering, especially when obesity in pets can be so easily prevented,” said Dr. Neil Shaw, chief medical officer at BluePearl, said in a statement.

Jimmy Millard, food buyer at Twin Cities-based Chuck & Don's Pet Food Outlet, agreed.  "As with people, pet obesity is correlated with little to no exercise and overeating," Millard said. He said, in general, cats are slightly more prone to obesity than dogs since they are typically indoor pets and often get less exercise.

"Overweight or obese pets are risk for serious health issues including heart problems, joint problems, and diabetes," Millard told Patch. "In general, it can lead to a lower quality of life for your pet."

BluePearl Veterinary Partners said your pet should be seen by your family veterinarian at least twice a year because pets age much faster than humans.

When is your pet is obese?

Millard said, "If you can no longer feel your pet’s ribs with gentle fingertip pressure, your pet may be carrying extra weight. In addition, the belly should tuck up behind the rib cage. If the belly makes a straight line this could mean your pet is overweight.

If you feel your pet is overweight, take him or her to the veterinarian to assess their body weight and composition. If your pet is obese, it will have approximately 10 – 15 percent excess body weight."

How can you prevent pet obesity?

"Portions are key," Millard told Patch. "Many pet foods recommend serving sizes based on weight. They are a great rule of thumb, but vary based on the activity level of your pet. Your pet may require more or less food based on their exercise level, age, breed and environment.

"If your pet needs to lose weight look for pet food with labels that state “weight loss” or “weight management.” Look for foods that will have the right proportion of protein, fat and carbohydrates for your pet.

"Other than portion control, exercise is very important," Millard continued. "Whether it’s going outside and playing fetch, or running them up and down the stairs during the winter months – any exercise will help. For cats, there are products available that will allow them to exercise for their food and keep their minds’ stimulated.

"And remember, if your pet is obese, start your exercise regimen slowly. They may not be able to go for long walks or play for extended periods immediately so it is OK to go around the block or for shorter walks to start." 

For more information about National Pet Obesity Awareness day, contact your veterinarian and visit: http://www.petobesityprevention.com/

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