Fluff or Fat? Petplan Dishes Tips to Keep Pets Fit for Pet Obesity Awareness Day

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Extra weight hinders health and takes a bite out of pet parents’ budgets

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A longevity study conducted on dogs found that pets fed 25% fewer calories than normal lived an average two years longer, had a lot fewer medical problems and remained more active well into old age.

Over half of all pets in the U.S. are packing on extra pounds – and their obesity comes at a hefty cost.* Not only do overweight pets suffer health conditions that require expensive veterinary care, but excess weight can actually shorten a pet’s life. And although some pet parents think all that extra fluff just means there’s more of their pet to love, Petplan warns that a few pounds too many can take a dangerous toll.

Dr. Ernie Ward, who founded the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention in 2005, warns that pet parents who don’t see a problem with pudge could be setting their furry friends up for health trouble. In honor of today’s ninth annual National Pet Obesity Awareness Day, Dr. Ward – who is also a Petplan Veterinary Advisory Board member – details three common problems linked to obesity:

catastrophic cancer
Year after year, cancer continues to be the second most claimed for condition, according to data from Petplan pet insurance. Because excess fat has been implicated as the cause of many cancers in animals, losing weight can also mean reducing the risk.

devastating diabetes
Diabetes and insulin resistance have been shown to reduce a pet’s life expectancy in addition to requiring constant medication and treatment. Type 2 diabetes, which commonly costs pet parents upwards of $1,300 to treat, is largely prevented by feeding the right amount of food to maintain a normal weight. What could be easier?

awful arthritis
A pet carrying as little as one or two extra pounds suffers stress to joints that are not designed to carry extra weight. Making matters worse, fat cells produce chemicals known as adipocytokines that damage even non-weight bearing joints. There’s no cure for arthritis – owners can only manage the pain for their pets, for which Petplan reimburses an average of $610.

“A longevity study conducted on dogs found that pets fed 25% fewer calories than normal lived an average two years longer, had a lot fewer medical problems and remained more active well into old age,” says Dr. Ward. “I created Pet Obesity Awareness Day nine years ago to educate pet parents about how easy it is to keep their furry friends healthy. If you’re looking for the Fountain of Youth for your pets, it’s right there in the food bowl.”

Got a pudgy pooch or a corpulent kitty? Dr. Ward dishes these tips for getting them fit:

count calories and measure meals
Don’t trust your pet food’s feeding suggestions; owners can easily feed 20% to 30% too much if following the label. Ask your vet to calculate your pet’s caloric need based on his breed, age, gender, medical conditions and lifestyle. Also consult with your vet before cutting calories. Each pet’s metabolism is unique, so simply feeding less can cause nutrient imbalances or life-threatening liver failure.

treat intelligently
If you’re going to give your critter cookies, make ‘em count. Many pet treats are packed with sugar and fat; instead choose low-calorie, no-sugar treats that provide health benefits, like single-ingredient rewards such as sweet potato, salmon and blueberries. When you do give goodies, be sure to reduce kibble to account for the calories. As few as 30 extra calories per day can cause a pet to gain more than three pounds by year’s end.

hustle for health
When it comes to living a long and disease-free life, research proves our most powerful partner is daily exercise. For humans and hounds, as little as 20 to 30 minutes of brisk walking can boost immune function, improve cardiovascular health and reduce anxiety. For cats, try playing with a laser pointer, remote-controlled toy or a ball for five to 15 minutes each day.

“The undeniable best way to enhance the longevity of our pets is to feed them a healthy diet and maintain their weight,” says Dr. Ward. “Pet obesity causes immeasurable suffering and costs owners untold millions in unnecessary medical costs. Take a minute to evaluate your pet’s fitness today for National Pet Obesity Awareness Day. If your pet could shed a couple of pounds, talk with your veterinarian. There are many medically-proven solutions to add quality and extend years to your pet’s life.”

For more tips for keeping pets fit and healthy, visit http://www.Petplan.com.

*According to the Association for Pet Obesity Awareness


Petplan is more than a pet insurance provider. We're dedicated to providing pet parents with the support, resources and tools they need to keep their pets not just surviving—but thriving—into their old age. Simply put, we aim to be the kind of company that will make our pets proud. For the third consecutive year, Petplan was listed among Forbes' annual ranking of America’s Most Promising Companies – a list of 100 privately held, high-growth companies with bright futures. Petplan is the only pet insurance provider to have been included on Inc. Magazine’s list of 500 fastest-growing, privately held companies in America.

Petplan’s fully customizable cat and dog insurance policies provide comprehensive coverage for all hereditary and chronic conditions for the life of the pet as standard. Petplan policies are underwritten by AGCS Marine Insurance Company in the U.S. and by Allianz Global Risks US Insurance Company in Canada. The Allianz Group was rated A+ by A.M. Best in 2014. For more information about Petplan pet insurance, visit http://www.petplan.com or call 1-866-467-3875.

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Jessica Kinney
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