By Janet McAfee

Many Americans now struggle with maintaining “social distancing” from their refrigerators.  They may be tempted to grab another comforting treat for their pet, giving in to those pleading looks.  With many dog parks closed and warmer weather approaching, exercising with Fido may be reduced.  Spending long hours housebound, schedules are discarded, and it becomes too easy to spoon out another portion of pet food while we indulge on snack food for ourselves.      

Obesity in pets is already a problem.  Experts estimate as many as 35% of the domestic pets in this country are overweight.  Veterinarians express concern that obesity is the most common health threat to our pets.  Denial leads many people to be shocked when their vet tells them their picture-perfect pet needs to lose weight.  In a nation where over half the population is overweight, it is not surprising that denial is a typical reaction to being told Fluffy or Fido needs to go on a diet.  Typical responses may include, “My husband doesn’t listen to me about how much to feed” or “It keeps my dog happy to get lots of treats!”

Most people who over feed their pets love their animals.  However, some are victims of neglect, such as Annie pictured here.  This stray Terrier was brought to Loving All Animals by a Good Samaritan who found her wandering the streets, badly matted and struggling to walk from excessive weight.  Shockingly, when her owner was located they made it clear they no longer wanted Annie and suggested she be “put to sleep”.  Loving All Animals had a different plan, and Annie was groomed, vetted, put on a dog diet food, and readied for adoption.  Several months later, a much slimmer Annie was spotted happily marching in the Animal Samaritans’ Walk for the Animals with her wonderful new mom.  Susan and Annie promote the joy of activities and exercising together.


There are life threatening consequences for overweight pets.  Those include increased risk of diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, hypertension, heart disease, tumors, cancer, etc.  Overweight animals are prone to orthopedic problems such as intervertebral disc disease, particularly long-back breeds such as Dachshunds.  This condition can even paralyze a dog.  Overweight pets, like people, are more prone to inflammation in the body, high cholesterol, pancreatitis, torn ligaments, and many other conditions.  Quality of life is impacted, and the lifetime for obese pets is shortened by at least 2 years.  Don’t free feed, research special diet foods, and slowly REDUCE the amount of food you give your overweight pet. 

This time of isolation, stress, and heartache can also be a time to set new goals that include your pet.  In our regular “busy” lives, our pets receive the limited time and attention we have left.  Now is the time to enjoy the love from our furry friends and pay them back for their dedication to us.  The weather still permits morning hikes with Fido, and you can drive to a new location and enjoy the wildflowers. Play fetch or tag in the backyard.  Find some videos of practicing yoga with your dog (called doga). There is a new clever walking calculator app called “Work Out Your Walkies” that tells you if your pup is getting enough walking for his age and breed.

Get one of those wire cat toys with a feather at the end and enjoy Fluffy’s playful antics.  Cats also enjoy jumping on stacked cardboard boxes, and running after rubber balls.

Hold fast Pet Parents!  Resolve to create a healthier life for you and your beloved pet. The most important thing you can do to prevent disease and extend your pet’s life expectancy is what you feed him and HOW MUCH.

If you are still “dogless in the desert” or would like a purring feline to keep you company, here is a partial list of Inland Empire animal shelters and private rescue organizations.  If you cannot adopt at this time, consider making a donation to one of the worthy private animal rescue organizations as these charities depend on these funds.  

COACHELLA VALLEY ANIMAL CAMPUS – This large county shelter is now closed, but you can call for an appointment to adopt.  View the animals at all four county shelters at, and get the ID number of the animal you want to meet. Email them with the animal’s ID number at and call (760) 343-3644. Located at 72050 Pet Land Place, Thousand Palms. (Public)

PALM SPRINGS ANIMAL SHELTER – The shelter is closed, but you can call for an appointment to adopt.  They schedule appointments Wednesday through Monday, closed on Tuesday.  View their animals at, 4575 E. Mesquite Ave, Palm Springs, (760) 416-5718. (Private)

ANIMAL SAMARITANS – The shelter is closed, but you can call for an appointment to adopt.  View their animals at  Email to foster.  Located at 72307 Ramon Rd, Thousand Palms, (760) 601-3918.  (Private)

CALIFORNIA PAWS RESCUE  – The shelter is closed, but you can call for an appointment to adopt. Located at 73650 Dinah Shore, Palm Desert.  View their animals at, (760) 656-8833.  (Private)

HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE COACHELLA VALLEY – The shelter is closed, but you can call for an appointment to adopt one of their many dogs or cats.  View some of their animals at Located at 17825 N. Indian Canyon, North Palm Springs, (760) 329-0203.  (Private)

KITTYLAND – The shelter is closed, but you can call for an appointment to adopt.  Located at 67600 18th Avenue, Desert Hot Springs., (760) 251-2700.  (Private)

LOVING ALL ANIMALS – The shelter is closed, dogs in foster homes.  Located at 83496 Avenue 51, Coachella,, (760) 834-7000. (Private)

MORONGO BASIN HUMANE SOCIETY – Located at 4646 Sun View Rd, Joshua Tree,, call between 11am-4pm for updates(760) 366-3786 (Private)

CITY OF SAN BERNARDINO ANIMAL SHELTER – Shelter is closed but you can call for an appointment to adopt.  Hours for adoption 10am – 4pm Tuesday through Saturday, closed Sun/Mon.  Google “City of San Bernardino Animal Shelter” for website to view animals and get ID number of the animal you want to meet.  Located at 333 Chandler Place, San Bernardino, (909) 384-1304 or (909) 384-7272. (Public)

SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY ANIMAL SHELTER AT DEVORE – Shelter is closed but you can call for an appointment to adopt. Call (909) 386-9280 daily between 9am & 5pm.  View their animals at and get the ID number of animal you want to meet. Located at 19777 Shelter Way, San Bernardino (Public).

DREAM TEAM ANGELS RESCUE – Foster based rescue located in Grand Terrace/San Bernardino area.  Contact them through website, (360) 688-8884. (Private)