The Obesity Epidemic: Is Your Pet Overweight?

JULY 2021

Tags - Dogs, Food, Obesity, Pets

What do you do when Buddy looks at you with those eyes, or Felix meows that way? You know what we’re talking about. The tater tots under the table (we see them), that extra cream in the bowl.... It’s so hard to resist, and yet it’s not just sneaking treats that’s making pets fatter. We really have an epidemic, with 60% of cats and 56% of dogs now overweight or obese, according to the latest data from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP). 

Previously, body fat was thought to be inactive tissue that just sat there. But we now know it’s busy secreting inflammatory hormones and creating oxidative stress on the body’s tissue, both of which contribute to chronic illnesses. “Dogs and cats with excess fat are at greater risk for developing diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, kidney disease,” APOP writes. In fact, a study on more than 50,000 dogs found that those who were overweight clearly had shorter lifespans—from 5 months to 2½ years, depending on breed. 

That fact is reason enough to start doing something today if you have an overweight pet. The good news is, and you know this: It really boils down to healthy food and more fun!

Healthy Food: At Shine Pet Food, our fresh, well-balanced food encourages dogs and cats to lose weight, and maintain it, in a healthy way. (We have feeding charts and wholesome treats as well.) We only use whole foods; nothing is processed. And the average carb content of our meals is about 8%—the amount that dogs and cats can process before they start storing carbs in their bodies as fat and sugar. Kibble, on the other hand, contains much more carbohydrate content—anywhere from 25% to 40%. In general, heavily-processed foods often have low-quality ingredients, in addition to an unhealthy dose of added starches and carbs, which easily put on the pounds. 

More Fun: Movement is the other part of the equation. In general, dogs need a minimum of 20 minutes a day of good exercise that will keep their heart rate up, and more if they’re overweight. Dr. Karen Becker, author of Real Food For Healthy Dogs and Cats (co-authored Beth Taylor), and The Forever Dog (co-authored Rodney Habib), recommends going for an hour of exercise a day with your healthy dog if you’re looking to maximize health and lifespan.  

Play is a great way to add some activity. Put the pup on a leash and make the rounds of the best pee-mail sites in your neighborhood. Go to the dog park where they can chase a flying disk and play with other pup buddies. Grab a catnip mouse or a feather toy and let the feline fun begin.

Healthy treats, like our Jack’s Snacks and dehydrated lung, can be part of your time together, walking, playing, or training. Making Buddy and Felix work for their yummies with treat-dispenser toys, which we also have, is good for both their bodies and minds.

Consult with your vet about your dog’s weight. And you might want to check out Ruined by Excess, Perfected by Lack: the Paradox of Pet Nutrition, by Dr. Richard Patton, our nutrition consultant, for more on carbohydrates, nutrition, and obesity. If you have questions about our food, please ask. We can help you figure out what portions to feed so your pet loses weight without being hungry—and lives the best and longest life possible.