Pudgy pup? Human diet tricks may help
Jennie the German shepherd-heeler mix had always been an agile dog. So when Maribeth Ashley, the owner of the 6-year-old rescue dog, noticed that Jennie was having trouble getting in and out of the car for trips to the park, she was worried. Then Ashley noticed that her other dog, Pickles, also a 6-year-old shepherd mix, needed help jumping into the car, too.
Ashley scheduled a visit to the vet. When she got there, she got bad news.
“The vet told me that they were so fat they were going to have hip dysplasia in their old age and coronary problems and all kinds of things,” Ashley said.
It was a message very similar to one Ashley, a 71-year-old resident of Fort Worth, Texas, heard from her own doctor just days later. Ashley, who was recovering from a minor stroke and whose weight qualifies her as obese, needed to get her cholesterol and blood pressure down, the doctor said.
“I knew we were all in trouble,” Ashley said.
Ashley and her pets aren’t unique. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 34.2 percent of Americans over age 20 were overweight as of 2008, and another 33.8 percent were obese. As human waistlines have ballooned, so has pets’ girth: A 2009 national survey of veterinarians by the Association for the Prevention of Pet Obesity found that 45 percent of dogs and 58 percent of cats were overweight or obese. Those numbers revealed a 2 percent increase in dog weight problems from the year before, and a 5 percent increase for cats