Obesity in Pets 

You love your pet but does that mean it should have love handles?

Obesity is one of the most common nutritional disorders in our pets today. It is estimated that close to 60% of all dogs are overweight and 40% of cats are obese. Doesn't apply to you? Read on....It is also estimated that 60% of dog owners and 40% of cat owners are afflicted with skinny eyes syndrome. They are unable to view their pets as being overweight.

Your pet is considered obese when it is 15% over its optimal weight, however most owners are surprisingly unable to recognise that their pet may be overweight andfatpetscat dare I say it, even dead set fat. It occurs when there is excess caloric intake combined with reduced physical activity. Eating too much is partly the result of the attractive taste of today’s supermarket pet foods, however, the major cause is supplementation with table scraps, snacks and other foods by loving and well meaning owners. Does this sound like you? The obese pet responds to particularly good tasting food by eating beyond its requirements. Reduced physical activity or exercise that is not matched by reduction of calories eaten contributes to obesity, as does eating when bored or idle. Over feeding puppies predisposes them to obesity as adults by increasing their number of fat cells. Allowing them to become obese during growth will often plague them with obesity throughout life. 

Excess weight is harmful to our pet’s health and well-being, making them prone to a number of diseases such as:

  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Pancreatitis
  • Respiratory distress
  • Feline lower urinary tract disease
  • Cardiovascular problems and high blood pressure
  • Digestive disorders and constipation
  • Dermatitis
  • Liver disease
  • Heat stress
  • Increased risk during surgery and anaesthesia
  • Musculoskeletal diseases

This is why it becomes extremely important that we treat our pets for obesity. Obesity means that our beloved pets live shorter and much less comfortable lives. No one wants that. 

Desexed pets and certain breeds such as Labradors are more prone to weight gain.

Prevention is better than cure and obesity can be prevented by the following:

  • Always feed according to recommended guidelines
  • Avoid unrestricted access to food
  • Restrict treats to less than 10% of daily caloric intake
  • No people treats or table scraps
  • Regular exercise  

fatpetdogAs pet owners are often afflicted with skinny eyes syndrome and thus unable to determine that their pet may be carrying excess weight, a visit to your Veterinarian for advice is the first step to better pet health. Your veterinarian will be able to prescribe a weight loss diet and an appropriate weight loss program for your pet. 

An important part of a successful weight reduction program is that every member of the family is certain of the necessity of weight reduction. It is essential that everyone cooperate to reach the agreed upon goal. So no more table scraps are to “accidentally” fall off the table. 

It is very important to be honest during any weight loss process. Your pet losing its love handles is solely based on you, in the form of “owner compliance”. Stopping the yummy treats does not mean you do not love your pet, but rather that you want them to have a longer, more comfortable life. 

Dr Alison Banfield Sanford Veterinary Clinic

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