October 14 is National Pet Obesity Awareness Day. Did you know that according to data from the Association for Pet Obesity Protection over half of all cats and dogs in America are obese? Obesity can cause a variety of health problems – from heart and liver strain to joint pain – and have a detrimental effect on your furry friend’s longevity.

We know nobody likes to hear their pet is overweight, but the best way to ensure your pet has a long and happy life (one study indicates that dogs kept at an ideal weight live 1.8 years longer on average) is to get them, and keep them, fit and at a healthy weight.

This is accomplished with diet and exercise. A diet high in fiber and protein can help your pet feel full and stimulate their metabolism. Your veterinarian can help with setting goals for your pet’s ideal weight, as well as help you put together a feeding plan that will help your pet lose pounds in a measured, healthy way.

A fitness plan is crucial not just in helping your pet lose weight if they’ve packed on some extra pounds, but in increasing their strength, endurance, balance, and overall quality of life. Staying fit can help stave off illness associated with obesity, and maintaining good muscle and joint fitness can help keep your pet healthy and strong throughout their life. For dogs, 15-30 minutes a day of leash walking, plus play time is a great place to start. For cats, interactive play that involves chase and catch – think lasers or toys on a stick – is a great way to keep fit, and most veterinarians recommend three sessions per day of about five minutes each.

You may see your pet as pleasingly plump, but that padding can lead to trouble for your beloved pet’s health. Partnering with your veterinarian, like the team here at Westfield Veterinary Group, can ensure your furry family member stays fit and healthy for as long as possible. If you’d like to discuss your pet’s weight or get a personalized plan for your pet, give us a call at 908-932-1048.