If you’re honest, you’ll probably admit that your beloved Labrador Retriever is overweight, right? If you had to guess you’d say she’s maybe 5 or 10 lbs. overweight? But you probably don’t think it’s such a big deal – she’s happy and what else matters, right? Wrong!
Maybe you think I’m being over-dramatic when I say on my Radio Pet Lady Network shows and blogs that American pets are in danger because we are allowing them to become overweight? Do you think I am exaggerating when I say that there is a mounting health crisis for our dogs and cats as they get fatter and fatter? Believe me!
Let me share a shocking research finding: dogs who are overweight or obese will generally be expected to live about two years less than if they were at their ideal body weight. Almost two whole years of her life!
You could be cutting her life short by two years by giving too many high calorie treats, not measuring the quantity and calories in her meals, and not giving her the 30 minutes of good daily exercise she needs. What this means is that your beloved Labrador might live to 11 years instead of 13 – and is more likely to suffer from medical problems from carrying excess weight throughout her life.
I hope that frightening information will inspire you to take us seriously when you hear Dr. Donna Spector and me talk about the “pet obesity epidemic” on our pet talk show THE EXPERT VET on the Radio Pet Lady Network. We’ve talked about the fact that most owners and even their veterinarians cannot remember what a normal, healthy cat or dog should look and feel like.
Raising awareness of the health dangers of obesity is why we launched the Healthy Weight Challenge, with the support of Halo pet food who supplies the Healthy Weight dry food and the Spot’s Stew in a can. Dr. Donna uses them as her “magic tools” in helping our contestants shed excess pounds and keep them off forever.
This week we welcome our newest contestant, Xena – a darling Pomeranian from Maryland who was once 10 lbs and is now nearly 15 lbs., a 50% weight increase which is dramatic for such a little lady. Hats off to her humans, John and Pam, who realized they had a problem and came to us to solve it.
We’re honored to be part of Xena’s return to her bathing suit figure, and to serve as a great example to owners of every size dog that being fat isn’t cute—it is harmful and is a health crisis that each of us needs to address with our beloved dogs, who are already with us for too short a time. Think of it this way: staying lean means a longer, healthier life!
Tracie Hotchner is the author of THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know.
She is also a renowned pet radio host and producer, having spent 7 years on the Martha Stewart Channel of Sirius/XM with CAT CHAT® and even longer with her award-winning NPR radio show DOG TALK® (and Kitties, Too!) that continues to broadcast in the Hamptons and the Berkshires. Her most recent accomplishment is the pet talk radio network she has created on the Internet called The Radio Pet Lady Network.