The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Pets, too, need to keep an eye on the pounds


The first hint may be pants that appear to be smaller, though you know they haven’t shrunk.

Or maybe one day you realize your seat belt is hidden by pudge.

One way or another, humans figure it out when they’re losing the battle of the bulge.

With pets it’s a little harder to know what they should look like, particularly since their bodies are shaped differently than ours and there aren’t always examples of the same age and breed handy to compare them.

As with humans, pet obesity is a topic getting wide attention in recent years and the reason is pretty simple — it’s reached epidemic levels, according to new data released this month.

In the past 10 years, the number of overweight and obesity cases has risen 169 percent in cats, and 158 percent in dogs, which means one out of every three dogs and cats are overweight.

The 2017 State of Pet Health report is generated from the 2016 exams of 2.5 million dogs and 505,000 cats by Banfield Pet Hospital, which operates a network of pet health-care facilities nationwide.

Caused by overfeeding, lack of exercise and misunderstanding by owners, pet obesity can result in health conditions that impact an animal’s quality and length of life and can be costly for owners.

Overweight cats can develop problems such as diabetes, arthritis and respiratory issues.

Overweight dogs can suffer from arthritis. Respiratory problems can lead to tracheal collapse, and urinary incontinence.

Knowing if a pet is in good condition can be tricky and there are some basic guidelines that can help pet owners keep an eye on their furry family members’ figures.

• It’s all in the ribs — The dog or cat in ideal shape has ribs that can be felt easily but can’t be seen and there should be a defined waistline between the ribs and hips.

When the ribs are difficult or impossible to feel and the space between the rib cage and hips is round or lacks definition, it’s time to take heed.

• The perfect diet — Particularly when it comes to animals always eager to chow, it can be hard to know how much and how often to feed.

Generally, adult pets can eat one or two meals per day. See a vet for guidance on how many calories your pet needs, then measure their food to stay on track. Remember, treats and people food count toward daily calories, so go easy on the goodies.

• Burn the calories — Exercise is a must for maintaining good body condition. If a pet lays around the house all day, even with the right food intake, the calories aren’t getting burned.

Encourage cats to exercise with ribbons, feather toys or toys they can chase, such as balls and laser pointers. Dogs may need a little more engagement to get off the porch, such as throwing a ball for them or taking them on a daily jog or walk.

It can be hard to shed pounds, so it makes sense to start pets with good diet and exercise habits from day one, but if they’re already getting pudgy, it’s never too late to get in shape.

Sharna Johnson is always searching for ponies. You can reach her at:


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