We’ve all seen adorable, round pets being slowly walked by their elderly owner, or the very round fluffy cats lounging in windows. It warms the heart but also raises the question of why some elderly people’s pets tend to be on the heavier side.
Here are a few thoughts on why this phenomenon occurs.
Animals share the same aging issues as humans. We all start to get round as we age and one of the most significant factors contributing to an animal’s weight gain in old age is decreased mobility. Every elderly animal (human & pet) might not be as spry or active as they once were, which can lead to a sedentary lifestyle. Coupled with an owner’s reduced mobility, it can result in fewer walks and play time.
Treats and Eats
Lonely elderly individuals sometimes have a softer spot for their pets, and this can manifest in treats and eats. Owners of beloved pets may be inclined to offer their pets extra treats or larger portions to express their love and affection. Unfortunately, this well-intentioned pampering leads to excess weight gain over time.
Loneliness is now a national issue. Although social isolation is not a new subject it has become a topic of discussion since the start of COVID. Pets offer companionship and unconditional love, and in return, owners may share their meals with them. Loneliness can inadvertently lead to overfeeding as seniors find comfort in their pets’ presence.
Lack of Awareness
Most people are not aware of the nutritional needs of their aging pets. My own dogs have a few too many pounds on them. Dietary requirements can change for older pets, and it’s essential to adjust accordingly.
So, what do we do to ensure our pets stay healthy and maintain a suitable weight?
- Maintain regular vet check-ups.
- Maintain a consistent feeding schedule with portion control.
- Watch the treats!
It’s also a good idea to keep your pet mentally and physically stimulated with walks and play. And while we are at it walking your pets (probably just the dog, although I have seen cats on a leash) is a great way for owners to get out of the house. Visit with your neighbors and combat social isolation.
In the end, while pudgy pets are cute it is bad for their health. A balanced diet and regular exercise can ensure that your faithful friend enjoys their golden years to the fullest. Click here for an article from the AKC Canine Health Foundation on nutrition in older pets.
And remember, if you are worried about expenses as you age, cutting down on food intake can lower both food and vet bills!