The obesity epidemic doesn’t just affect humans.
Pets also struggle with excess weight and related health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.
It’s estimated that 59% of companion dogs and cats are overweight or obese.
Why Are Our Pets Overweight?
There appears to be a direct correlation between pet obesity and human obesity.
In other words, pets tend to be overweight because their owners tend to be overweight.
When pet owners can’t create a healthy lifestyle for themselves, they probably aren’t going to help their pets maintain a healthy weight either. This issue may also be a similar circumstance leading to the growing childhood obesity problem.
A “parent’s” poor dietary habits get passed onto the ones they feed and take care of. And the same tends to be true for exercise habits. Dogs, and children, will often reflect their caretaker’s level of activity.
It’s easy to get in the habit of using treats as a reward or stress relief, eating when you’re not hungry, or buying convenient but fattening food. When a person gets stuck in this vicious cycle, this unhealthy relationship with food often carries over into how they feed their kids and pets.
There is nothing wrong with loving our pets and providing for them. But we need to be careful about how we give them this care and what we give them to eat.
What Can We Do to Help Our Pets?
The key challenge in establishing and maintaining a weight loss program for pets appears to be owner compliance.
Your pets’ weight and health will be improved if they eat healthy quantities of quality food. Still, ultimately, the owner’s responsibility is to ensure that this feeding regimen happens.
It’s up to the owner to monitor intake, resist the temptation to feed excessive amounts of treats, provide exercise opportunities, buy appropriate foods, and commit to feeding only the recommended amounts.
Sometimes people do not know what constitutes a healthy diet and exercise routine. Learning about proper feeding and exercise can help them make appropriate changes in their own lives and, subsequently, help their pets and children become more healthy too.
Learning about the social and emotional challenges around weight loss, food cravings, stress management, and other related issues can also greatly benefit your health and the ones you care for.
In the same way that people often make excuses and rationalizations to justify their unhealthy eating habits, pet owners often use excuses to justify feeding their pets poorly.
If you’re struggling with your weight, likely, this will also cause problems for those who rely on you. You must be the one to take the initiative and help yourself first so that you can then help others.