How to help your pet lose weight from Covid
Pets across the country gain more pounds than they are healthy – something that has been easier to do since the start of the pandemic.
Take MabelDog, a 6 year old Jack Russell-dachshund mix. She should weigh 11 pounds, maybe 12. But last year, when the pandemic turned landlord Kathryn Howard’s world “into a two-bedroom apartment,” the weight steadily increased – for both. .
âIt was touching of us,â says Howard, 59, of Irondequoit, New York, referring to herself and her 18-year-old son. âWe had more snacks, so we gave him more snacks. Then we got to a point where part of our meal would be prepared for her. “
MabelDog reached 18 pounds.
She is not alone. A recent survey by canine technology company Fi, conducted in conjunction with Pumpkin Pet Insurance, found that 36% of 1,000 dog owners surveyed said their dogs “gained weight” during the pandemic, despite having exercise more than normal. More than 40 percent of owners admitted to giving their pets extra treats or table scraps.
The new findings “continue a trend that was already underway,” according to the latest figures available from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. In 2018, about 60% of cats and 56% of dogs in the United States were overweight or obese, according to the association. Obesity, in fact, is the number one threat to the health of pets, as it affects almost every biological system in their body. It can lead to diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, kidney failure, cancer and other conditions.
“What I see is the end of the spectrum that people don’t like to talk about and hopefully never get to see,” says Ernie Ward, internationally renowned veterinarian, founder of the association and author of three books, including Chow Hounds: Why our dogs get fat.
With owners like Howard working from home during the pandemic, people had more opportunities to share snacks with their furry friends.
âI have a lot of reviews that say it’s not a real problem,â says Ward, 54, based in Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina. âBut obesity is not a problem until it is a disaster. There is very little in between. And I see it constantly. This is the frustrating part for me.
Mastering portion control
Monitoring food intake “is the best thing to do” when trying to help your pet lose weight, says Emily McCann, associate veterinarian at Firehouse Animal Health Center in Kyle, Texas.
In addition to using a measuring cup at mealtime, McCann – who sees his fair share of obesity-related issues, including endocrine disorders, ligament tears and problems with the pathways urinary – suggests increasing exercise through longer walks and extra recess and swapping high calorie treats for healthier options such as carrots and green beans.