Overweight Pets -- What Is Making Them Fat?

A study published in the April issue of the American Journal of Veterinary Research reported that 30 per cent of dogs in the US are overweight or obese. Previous studies had found that the same is true for cats.

In the UK, the situation is even worse, with an estimated 30 to 60 per cent of all dogs and cats overweight.

So it seems that obesity in our pets is becoming as big a problem as obesity in humans. Vets advise that pets have a heightened risk of suffering from diabetes, heart and joint problems when they become overweight, just like we do.

Similar to humans, overweight in pets can be blamed partly on genes and partly on the environment. In the case of our pets, though, it seems it is mostly environment. In other words, we pamper our pets too much, feed them the wrong foods, give them snacks and treats they don't need, and fail to exercise them enough. We're killing them with kindness.

Is this really what we want for our pets?

Perhaps the most crucial thing for us to consider is that dogs and cats are carnivores. Their natural diet is mainly meat. If that's not the main constituent of the food you give your dog or cat, and your pet is overweight, then that may be something to bear in mind. Check the ingredients of your pet's tinned food or dry biscuits. If these foods are high in grains instead of meat, stop buying them! If you're not convinced that a high grain diet may be contributing to your pet's obesity, then consider this: grain is given to farm animals to fatten them up for market, not because it is their natural diet but because farmers have long known that it is the cheapest and most effective way to get them fat fast.