Keeping your pet fit and healthy

NEW YORK (CNN) – If you think you spent a lot of time on the couch this winter, imagine how all of that time indoors affected your dog. Packing on a few pounds can take a big toll on a pet’s health.

Warmer weather means fewer excuses to not get out and play. You can’t just exercise a dog once a week. You have to give them consistent exercise every day, even if it’s for 20 minutes for small dogs or 30 minutes to 45 minutes for big dogs.

The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention says more than half of dogs and cats in the United States are considered overweight or obese. Just like humans, there are potential health consequences.

For cats, in particular carrying extra weight can predispose them to diabetes. For dogs, carrying that extra weight can lead to orthopedic problems, can lead to breathing problems. So it is important to have your pet at the most ideal weight that you can get them.

Veterinarian Robyn Johnson can spot the pudgy pets in her office, but how can owners tell?

“You can easily feel the ribs but not see them. If you’re looking down on the pet, they come down into a little waist, so that waist cinches in. And if you’re looking at them from the side, their body tucks up in the back,” said Johnson.

Jenny Chang of Fetch Pet Care says getting a pet outside should be enough motivation to get them moving.

“All they really do need to see is another dog running, and they’ll start to change their own focus and start running with that other dog,” said Chang.

Just be sure to acclimate pups to a new park before letting them loose for that workout.

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