CHESAPEAKE, Va. — Overindulging in some of your favorite snacks and treats can add up to a larger number on the scale. We have this problem as humans, but also we tend to help our pets overindulge as well! 

“Obesity is an epidemic in dogs and cats. We love our pets, and we show our love through food,” said Dr. Dennette Cooke of Cooke Veterinary Medical Center.

And we have no idea how many extra calories we are giving them most of the time. It comes down to how we are feeding our animals.

Like anybody else, we look at the nutrition label for guidance, but for pets, Dr. Cooke said don't be fooled by the recommendation listed on the packaging!

“Take the label and how much we should feed it, and don’t even look at it,” she said.

Why? It is a misrepresentation in part because of the different energy levels, animal breeds, health concerns, and body size.

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“The number one cause of obesity: too many calories, not enough exercise, just like in humans,” Dr. Cooke said.

How do you know when your dog is too plump to the point they are actually obese? There’s a simple test you or your veterinarian can conduct.

“You want to feel the rib cage, go back and forth, you should feel that like a washboard,” Dr. Cooke explained.

We all want our furry companions to live forever. A first step to extending those lives is to keep them lean.

“If my dog is heavy, I’m taking basically two years of life off of them, so thin is in.”

How about some tricks for weight loss...

“My tricks for weight loss are to buy smaller food bowls and only have one family member feed the dog because too many cooks spoil the broth. Another thing that we may do is measure the food in a measuring cup like you’re baking a cake, level it off so you know exactly how much.”

Weight loss in your pet is a commitment just like when we embark on that same journey as a human. An ideally weighted dog or cat is not only a healthy animal but a happy one too!

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