Angela Klein said she has not been the best “dog parent” when it comes to making sure her Samoyed mixed-breed dog named “Snow” eats healthy.
“I need to start thinking of her health like my own,” Ms. Klein said. The dog weighed 75 pounds when she was taken to her veterinarian, Dr. Kirk Reese, in Whitehouse in October. The doctor told Ms. Klein the dog should weigh about 50 pounds and suggested she feed the dog about two to three cups per day of a low-calorie, high-fiber food.
Ms. Klein said she is not certain, but she thinks Snow might have lost weight. She will find out this month when she takes the dog back for another checkup, but she has made a concerted effort to help the dog get more fit.
She takes the dog for regular walks and sees that she is not fed table scraps “We can do this — it’s not brain surgery,” Ms. Klein said of the effort to get the dog to a more healthy weight.
Snow is not alone in her need for a healthier lifestyle. Fifty-four percent of the nation’s pets are overweight and have gotten heavier in the past five years, according to a 2011 survey which the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention conducted. The organization is not affiliated with any particular veterinary industry or business corporation, and was founded by Dr. Ernie Ward, a veterinarian in North Carolina, according to their website.
The survey was conducted at 41 U.S. veterinary clinics and evaluated 459 dogs and 177 cats in October 2011, according to the website. Veterinarians and veterinary technicians evaluated each pet to assess current weight, medical conditions, owner assessment of weight and body condition score. During the five years studied, these results have proven to be consistent and increasing at a gradual pace.
The best way for an owner to help a pet lose weight is the same for humans — diet and exercise, Reese said. “Walks are good for the owners and the pets,” he said. Reese suggested a brand pet food such as Science Diet or Royal Canin to help a pet lose weight.
And feeding animals table scraps is never a good idea, Reese said.
An owner might think feeding a dog a bite of meat once in a while won’t matter. “For a small dog that weighs only 15 pounds, a small bite of meat can make a difference,” he said.
For more information about the survey, go to www.petobesityprevention.com.