The following article was sent to me by Ashley Porter of VeterinarianTechnician.org and is something all pet owners should be aware of:
Top 50 Reads for Understanding the Animal Obesity Epidemic
Note from Jo Ann:
Pet obesity has become a major problem in this country, and one which often leads to serious health issues and, yes, even the premature death of a beloved pet.
Overweight animals are just as prone to heart problems, diabetes, thyroid conditions, and other organ failures as humans are. Hips, joints, and back are also affected.
Proper diet and exercise will definitely help to keep your pet in good heath and prolong their life span.
Always remember that "WE ARE WHAT WE EAT"... and that applies to our pets as well. If it's not good for you... then don't feed it to the animal.
Read the ingredient panels on all your pet food and make sure you are buying a product that meets the requirements of your dog or cat. You DO NOT want products that contain mostly indigestible carbohydrate grains. Rice, either white or brown, is a much better option than corn or sorghum. An indigestible carbohydrate often turns to sugar, which can lead to obesity.... or worse, diabetes. Also, become aware of the "treats" you are giving. All those pretty colors are FDA dyes, which can affect the kidneys... and most treats contain "sugar" or other ingredients that often contributes to obesity.
There are a number of good pet nutrition books available. The internet is also full of information but you do have to be careful... as some of these sites are not a reliable source. Your Veterinarian can also provide you with help in getting your pet back in good, healthy condition.
However, the best solution is to feed a proper diet, feed the right amount of food for the activity level, and always be aware of any changes in weight.... either gain or loss.
Another good rule is to have a feeding schedule for your pet. Free feeding (allowing the animal an endless supply of food) often leads to overeating. The proper amount, given twice a day, is the best way to ensure your pet stays in proper physical condition.