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More Issues with Food and Family Pets 
05/15/05 JR Rogers

Recently, I went back to discussing food issues in some detail. It is important to understand that we do have ways of helping out pets not only with their diets, but with preventing things from happening long term. 

Obesity in Pets and Ways to Deal with It

We have discussed this before. Obesity is an issue for both humans and pets when talking about arthritis. Overweight pets are not only more prone to developing arthritis, those who have joint related issues experience greater difficulties when obesity is present. 

Simple Solutions

When pets are young, and I refer to those under the age of one, we put them at greater risk of obesity through our own actions. I think that most of us are likely to feed them more and to provide "treats" because this seems to satisfy both the pet and us. I mean, who can refuse food to a cute little dog or cat? 

They are all little "beggars" at this stage. This is also the time when their bodies are more prone to developing fat cells. Now, part of this is our own fault because we are more likely to "give in" when they are seeking food. Of course by doing so, we are setting in motion a long-term problem. 

We Control the Future Here

This pattern of feeding too much in the early years gives rise to long-term obesity. It is not found in animals that are living in the wild. They tend to be lean and this leads us to the conclusion that it is the domestic pets that suffer the greatest risk here. 

Unfortunately, if we are over feeding our pets when they are young, we tend to continue this pattern. Even as they grow beyond this first year or so of life, we just keep giving in to their demands. Of course, obesity leaves pets more prone to developing medical conditions; and for our purposes, it makes the development and management of arthritis more difficult. 

The Best Prevention is Early Prevention

Over feeding in the younger years causes fat cells to build in your pet. This pattern becomes aggravated by continuing this over feeding in their adult years. As fat cells grow in the body they are more difficult to control; and, the dangers for the pet are that they will likely develop hip dysplasia or other arthritis related problems. In short, we are leading them into a life of pain and discomfort when arthritis is considered. 

If this is where you are now, what should you do?

We have said this many times before but the nature of the diet is a factor. (See, other articles in this series) Exercise is critical. When you combine obesity with an arthritis problem in pets, they suffer. 

Cutting Down Now

This almost certainly means following different food regimens and cutting down the quantity of food you are giving your pets. I recommend trying to cut down about 10-20% if you have a pet that has become obese. It is not going to be easy at first; they will beg for food. Just remember, it is in their best interest to resist. 

Just watch that diet. Your pet will thank you many times over for doing so. Of course, it may take some time for them to realize that they are the winners.