Pet obesity might mean that words like “fluffy,” “big boned,” “chubby” aptly describe your dog or cat.
If so, your overweight pet’s health may be at risk. Lea Jaratz didn’t realize the comments people made about her dogs, Lyger and Tahlula, were actually warning signs about their health.
“When people made fat dog jokes I thought they were kidding around,” she said. “That’s how much in denial I was about my dogs’ weight.”
Jaratz, who writes for the Embrace Pet Community, is one of a team of popular bloggers who recently completed a 12-week campaign to spread awareness about the dangers of pet obesity by helping their own pets get healthy. Extra pounds on a dog or cat can mean a host of health issues, a decrease in quality of life and often, a shorter lifespan.
The bloggers chronicled their successes and challenges, each learning surprising truths about the pet weight loss journey.
Vicki Boatright, of Just Meowin’and mom to the campaign’s “biggest loser,” Noah, quickly realized her involvement was critical to her cat’s success. Noah’s progress was slow at first, but increased once Boatright became diligent about portions and daily exercise. During the program, Noah went from an unhealthy 20 pounds to an appropriate16.5 pounds.
Celeste Lindell, who blogs at Average Jane, was surprised to find that shedding weight helped her cat, Xena, shed her attitude. “Before, Xena had a tendency to be cranky. Once she dropped the weight, she became noticeably friendlier. I can only assume that the extra weight was uncomfortable and losing it made her feel better.”
Kekoa, a mischievous black lab, lost nearly 8 percent of her body weight. Her mom, Jessica Vogelsang of Pawcurious.com, was shocked by the immediate change in Kekoa’s activity level.
“Even the first two pounds made a difference and added pep to her step,” says Vogelsang. “Now Kekoa is a different dog – she runs and plays like she never could before.”
The campaign taught Jessica Bush of Dogingham.com,and mom to dog Judy, that portion control is a big challenge to keeping a pet’s weight down.
“I didn't realize how small amounts of ‘extra’ food add up. Judy’s a scavenger so I have to stay on my toes. If there’s food around, Judy will find it!”
Teri Thorsteinson of Furry Dance Cats, found exercise was key to her cat, Disco’s, success. Like Noah, Disco’s progress was slow. Thorsteinson first adjusted portion sizes, which helped slightly, but it was a daily exercise routine of running Disco up and down stairs that made the difference in the cat’s progress.
“I realized just how inactive Disco’s obesity had made him,” she said.
A recent vet visit was the ultimate reward to Jaratz, who helped Lyger and Tahlula each shed several pounds during the program.
“Tahlula’s vet said he would ‘never guess that she is nine years old.’ To hear him say that my special girl, who's had so many health issues over the years due to her weight, is in the prime condition of her life – well, that was a pretty amazing feeling.”
The Nu Campaign to Fight Pet Obesity was sponsored by Nulo, a new pet food. Participants in the Nu Campaign were provided complimentary pet food and a donation to the charity of their choice by Nulo. All of the opinions, experiences, challenges and successes were the bloggers’ own and not edited by Nulo.