Everyone knows that obesity is an alarming and growing problem for people living in the United States. But did you know that the epidemic is also spreading among our animal companions? The Huffington Post reports findings by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention indicating that one-fifth of dogs and cats in the U.S. are obese.Obesity in humans increases the risk of acquiring various diseases, and the same is true for our animal companions. In dogs and cats, excessive weight can lead to osteoarthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, respiratory disease, kidney disease, cancer, and a decreased life expectancy.
High-calorie, nutrient-deficient diets lead to obesity in humans and, again, the same is true for dogs and cats. Overweight animals are usually overfed and under-exercised.
A nutritious vegan diet can prevent or reverse obesity in humans. Some dogs and cats do well on a vegan diet too. Try switching your animal companions’ food to a healthy vegan brand and see if that might be just the ticket to help them stay slim and fit.
But whatever you feed them, make sure that you’re not overfeeding and not giving an excessive number of treats. Treats should be small and reserved for use as rewards for good behavior. And don’t scrimp on exercise. All companion animals need exercise, and healthy young dogs and cats need a lot of it. Take your dogs on long walks, and play with your cats every day. Not only can exercise help keep the excess pounds off, it can also help keep your animal companions healthy and youthful.
Living with obesity can severely decrease the quality of an animal’s life. Help your animal companions avoid this serious condition by providing the appropriate amount of wholesome food and plenty of physical activity.
The post originally appeared on PETA.org.