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Obesity in our Dogs and Cats

An estimated 25-30% of pet cats and dogs are overweight.  Is this a problem?  A fat pet is a happy pet right?  This is not true; many diseases are associated or exacerbated by obesity including; arthritis, heart and respiratory problems, high blood pressure, heat and exercise intolerance, decreased immune function and diabetes to name a few.  Research has shown that animals at the proper weight live longer, healthier lives.

How do you decide if your pet is overweight?  We don’t rely only on the numbers on the scale as our pets come in many different sizes.  We access their weight by looking and touching them, determining if their ribs can be felt easily but not seen and if they have, a nice tucked in waist (no love handles).

Even if your pet is just a couple pounds over his ideal weight, those few pounds could make a big difference to your pet's health. For example, a 7lb Pomeranian is considered a “healthy” weight and the equivalent of a 145lb, 5’ 4” human female.  An extra five pounds on the Pomeranian, however, is the equivalent to a 249lb female, which is more than 100lbs over the female’s ideal body weight.  Just a few extra pounds really will make a big difference for your pet’s health.

Why are so many pets overweight?  Unfortunately, it is a result of eating too many calories and a lack of exercise. Indoor neutered pets need very little calories to maintain an ideal weight.  Many pet owners are busy and simply don’t have time to take their dogs for walks or have play time with their cats. Look at how you feed your pet.  Do you leave food down all day and refill the bowls when they are empty?  Does your pet get lots of treats or table scraps?  Feed your pet a specific amount of food twice daily unless they have a medical condition and are directed otherwise.

While you, as a pet owner, never intentionally mean to hurt your pet, overfeeding, lack of exercise and poor dietary choices can lead to an obesity problem.  Ask your veterinarian to recommend the right diet and exercise program to help your pet lose those extra pounds and live a longer healthier life.

Is your Pet Overweight?

If your pet is overweight talk to us. We can recommend an ideal weight range for your pet and help formulate a safe and effective weight loss plan.

Begin by evaluating your pet’s food: has it been formulated to AAFCO standards? How many calories does it contain in a serving? Try low calorie snacks like plain frozen green beans (thawed) or plain non-flavored popcorn.

Include exercise. Supply cats with climbing posts and dangly toys to encourage activity. Dogs benefit with walks a minimum of three times a week.

Nutritional counseling along with daily exercise can help your pet lose weight and live a long active life.