Pet owners play a crucial role in monitoring their pets' weight so that they do not become obese, according to veterinarian Dr. Debbye Turner Bell of CBS' "The Early Show."
Obesity can cause many health problems and reduce a pet's lifespan by up to half, so owners must monitor their pet's food intake and exercise, Bell said. The desired weight of a pet depends on several factors, such as gender, breed and age. According to Bell, dog owners can monitor their pets' weight by checking that the ribs can be felt but not seen. Cat owners should be able to see a slight indentation at the waist of the cat when looking down on it and the cat should have a rather flat belly.
Bell said to achieve a healthy weight for their pets, owners should reduce the amount of treats given and feed pets based on product guidelines, taking into account activity level, age and general health. Dog owners should provide their dogs with a minimum of 20 minutes of daily exercise, including walks and indoor agility training. Bell recommended exercising cats with chase games and by making them work to find food.