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Overweight pets and nutraceuticals: have you tried the best remedy first?

Posted Feb 27 2010 11:37am

 Pet obesity is an epidemic in America. According to a 2008 study (American Pet Products Association), 51% of pet dogs and cats are overweight or downright obese. A previous study suggested that dogs at a healthy weight live an average of 2 years longer than overweight dogs. The excess pounds are taking a toll on our four-legged friends.

Overweight pets, like overweight people, suffer from weight-related issues like joint pain and diabetes. Increasingly, owners are turning to the medicine cabinet in an effort to extend the quantity and quality of pets' lives. The market for pet medications is booming. Neutraceuticals (foods or naturally occurring food supplements thought to have a beneficial effect on health) are mainstream, with traditional vets and pet food companies on board. While I believe such products have their place, I wonder if we're not overlooking the obvious.

Before you reach for the pill bottle, consider reaching for the leash. Exercise is a great defense against all kinds of physical and emotional ills. The benefits of regular exercise for our pets and ourselves are well-documented.

There is a saying: If your dog is overweight, you're not getting enough exercise. Check with your vet (and your own doctor, if necessary). Get the go-ahead, then get out there. Your best friend will thank you.


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