Extra pounds are extra problems.
According to the National Pet Obesity Day Study, released in February, older animals have a higher incidence of being overweight or obese. Slightly more than 52 percent of dogs and 55 percent of cats over the age of 7 were found to be overweight or obese, says lead researcher Gina Toman, veterinary assistant at Seaside Animal Care in Calabash, N.C., and Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member.
"We need to educate owners about the risks of obesity and being overweight when their pets are young, but we can't forget about educating owners of senior pets," Toman says. Senior pet owners tend to take a passive role, she says. "They chalk up low energy to age and feed their pets whatever they want because they're old." But what they need to know is that a few extra pounds on a dog or cat are similar to a person being 30 to 50 lbs overweight. And any additional weight in older pets amplifies pre-existing conditions like diabetes, arthritis, and cancer. So talk to owners about weight management and the importance of nutrition, Toman says, and help their pets avoid or lessen the effects of these diseases.