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naturalpet FAT FIGHT


Like Us, Pets Must Eat Right and Keep Moving by Dr. Shawn Messonnier


bash, North Carolina.


Current medical consensus states that an animal is obese if it weighs at least 15 percent more than its ideal weight. But looking at body composi- tion is more accurate, based on mea- surements top-to-bottom and side-to- side and depth to the ribs and spine.


O


besity, a severe and debilitat- ing illness, is the most com- mon nutritional disease in both


animals and people. The latest survey of 121 veterinarians in 36 states by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) and corroborating American Veterinarian Medical Association data reveal we have 80 million fat cats and obese dogs; that’s more than 58 percent of dogs and 52 percent of domesticated cats. “Pet obesity remains the leading health threat to our nation’s pets,” says Dr. Ernie Ward, APOP’s founder, from the organization’s headquarters in Cala-


Health Issues Animals aren’t born fat. Obesity results from too many calories in food, snacks and treats, paired with a lack of aerobic exercise. Peo- ple may believe they are showing love by rewarding begging with treats, but they actually may be slowly killing their companions with kind- ness, putting them on a path toward painful and costly medi- cal problems. These can include cancer, cardiac problems, complications from drug therapy, difficulty breathing, heat intolerance, hypertension, interverte-


bral disk disease, orthopedic conditions (including arthritis), lethargy and rup- tured ligaments. Also, because excess body fat first deposits in the cavities of the chest and abdomen and under the skin, hypothyroidism and diabetes mel- litus can develop, so screen overweight animals for these disorders prior to treatment for obesity. Tackling obesity involves restrict- ing calories and increasing the meta- bolic rate with a controlled exercise program. Diet and exercise are the two most vital factors in fighting fat.


Eating Right Simply switching to a store-bought “lite” pet food is inadequate because many are designed to maintain, not lose, weight. Also, many products contain chemicals, byproducts and unhealthy fillers that are contrary to a holistic program.


A homemade restricted-calorie diet is the best choice for obese animals. The second is a pro- cessed “obesity-manage- ment” diet available


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