The Consequences of Pet Obesity: How to Manage and Prevent It

Is your furry friend carrying around a few extra pounds? It may not seem like a big deal, but pet obesity can have severe consequences for our beloved companions. From joint problems to diabetes and heart disease, the health risks associated with excess weight can significantly impact the quality and longevity of our pets’ lives.

In this article, we’ll explore the detrimental effects of pet obesity and provide practical tips on managing and preventing it. Whether you have a cat or a dog, understanding the causes and consequences of overweight pets is essential for their overall well-being.

Keep your pet from carrying around unnecessary pounds. Join us as we uncover the truth about pet obesity and equip you with the knowledge and tools to keep your furry friend in tip-top shape.

Causes of pet obesity

Pet obesity is a growing concern in today’s society. A recent study classified 59% of dogs and 61% of cats as overweight or obese. These alarming statistics highlight the need for pet owners and veterinarians to act and address this issue. But why has pet obesity become so prevalent?

There are several factors contributing to the rise of pet obesity. One of the main reasons is the overfeeding of pets. Many pet owners overestimate their pet’s nutritional needs and overfeed them. Additionally, poorer quality pet foods contribute to weight gain and increase fecal production, shedding, dry and brittle coats, and food allergies. Conversely, high-quality foods allow you to feed less, promote healthy skin and fur, and pets have less stool production.

The lack of physical activity is another contributing factor. Along with the rise of technology, people generally live more sedentary lives, spending more time on computers, thus affecting the time they spend walking or playing with their pets.

Health risks associated with pet obesity.

Obesity in pets can have severe consequences on their overall health and quality of life. Like humans, carrying excess weight puts pets at risk for various health conditions. Here are some of the most common health risks associated with pet obesity:

Diabetes: Overweight pets are more prone to developing diabetes. The excess body fat interferes with the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels, leading to insulin resistance and, eventually, diabetes.

Arthritis: Extra weight stresses a pet’s joints, leading to arthritis. The constant strain on their joints can cause pain, discomfort, and reduced mobility.

Heart Disease: Obesity can also lead to heart problems in pets. The extra weight burdens their cardiovascular system, increasing the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular conditions.

Respiratory Issues: Excess weight can make breathing difficult for pets, especially during physical activity. This stress can lead to respiratory problems and decreased stamina.

Shortened Lifespan: Studies have shown that overweight and obese pets have a shorter lifespan compared to their healthy counterparts. Obesity can significantly reduce a pet’s overall life expectancy.

How to tell if your pet is overweight

Determining whether your pet is overweight can be challenging, especially because you see them daily, so you may not notice the gradual increase in weight over time. However, a few key indicators can help you assess your pet’s weight status. Here are some simple ways to tell if your pet is overweight:

Visual Assessment: Take a step back and observe your pet’s body shape. You should be able to see a distinct waistline behind your pet’s ribcage. If your pet’s body appears round or rectangular without a noticeable waist, your pet may be carrying excess weight.

A chart of different types of pet's body weight assessments

AVMA Chart

Detecting their ribs:  You should be able to feel your pets’ ribs without needing to press firmly. If you cannot easily feel their ribs, there is a good chance your pet is overweight.

Weight Check: Use a pet scale or bring your pet to College Hills Veterinary Hospital to weigh your pet. You can then compare their weight to the ideal weight range for their breed and size. If your pet’s weight exceeds the recommended range, they are likely overweight.

Grooming Difficulty: If you notice that it is becoming increasingly challenging for your pet to groom themselves, especially reaching certain areas around the tail and lower back, it could be a sign of obesity.

It is always best to consult with one of our veterinarians if you are unsure if your pet is at is ideal weight. We can provide a professional assessment and guide you in the right direction.

Tips for preventing and managing pet obesity.

  • Preventing and managing pet obesity requires a combination of proper nutrition, regular exercise, and monitoring. Here are some helpful tips to help your pet achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Choose a Balanced Diet: Picking the right pet food for your pet ensures that your pet stays healthy and happy. But there is no “one size fits all” diet for every dog and cat. And there are several factors to consider when choosing pet food for your beloved companion. In our blog, Choosing the Right Pet Food, you can read about our five essential tips for choosing the healthiest food for your pet.
  • Avoid overfeeding and unnecessary treats: We know how hard it is to resist feeding your pets when they beg or plead with their mournful eyes. However, overfeeding your pet food or treats can quickly contribute to weight gain. So, keep to feeding schedules. When using treats to reward or train your pet, pay attention to the calories in the treats. We suggest you keep treat calories within 10% of your pet’s daily calorie requirement.
  • Monitor Food Intake: Measuring portions and following feeding guidelines provided by the pet food manufacturer can help prevent overeating. Avoid leaving food out all day, as pets tend to graze, leading to excessive calorie intake.
  • Avoid Feeding Table Scraps: While sharing your meals with your pet may be tempting, it’s best to avoid feeding them table scraps. Human food is often high in calories and can disrupt their balanced diet. Stick to their regular pet food to ensure they receive the necessary nutrients without unnecessary extra calories.
  • Implement Regular Exercise: Regular physical activity is essential for maintaining a healthy weight. Take dogs for daily walks or engage in interactive play sessions. Cats can benefit from playtime with toys that encourage movement, such as laser or wand toys. Gradually increase the duration and intensity of exercise to help your pet burn calories and stay fit.

Creating a Veterinary Program Tailored to Your Pet’s Needs

Veterinary care plays a crucial role in managing pet obesity. Our College Hills Veterinary Hospital team can provide valuable guidance and support throughout your pet’s weight loss journey. Here’s how we can help:

Professional Assessment: Our veterinarians can accurately assess your pet’s weight. They will determine your pet’s Body Condition Score (BCS). A pet’s BCS is like a pet version of a human’s BMI. Based on your pet’s BCS, your veterinarian will recommend an appropriate weight loss plan.

Nutritional Counselling:  If your pet is obese or needs to shed a few pounds, our nutritional counseling services can help you accomplish your goals and keep your pet healthy. We offer counseling in dietary selection and feeding practices for pets during various life stages, such as growth, pregnancy, nursing, and the “golden years.” If your pet has a medical condition, we can help you select the most appropriate diet to suit your pet’s needs.

It can be easy for a pet owner to become overwhelmed by the available selection of pet foods, all of which claim to have specific benefits for pets. We can offer expert advice to help you navigate the complicated array of choices. Let our nutritional counseling service help you achieve and maintain optimal nutrition for your pet.

Regular Weigh-ins: We can monitor your pet’s progress by scheduling regular weigh-ins. Regular weigh-ins allow us to track their weight loss and adjust the diet and exercise plan as needed.

MLS ® Laser Therapy for Arthritis and Pain Management:  Obesity in pets can lead to muscle weakening. The extra weight strains their muscles, leading to fatigue and atrophy. Lack of exercise and increased body weight contribute to declining muscle mass and strength. Obesity can also worsen joint problems, making movement more difficult and painful. For these reasons, overweight and obese pets can benefit significantly from MLS Laser Therapy we offer at College Hills Veterinary Hospital.

Laser therapy is a non-invasive, drug-free alternative for managing pain.  MLS Laser therapy has been cleared by the FDA for use in both the Veterinary and Medical fields.  It has been proven safe and effective for treating many debilitating pain conditions.  And there are no known side-effects! Please visit our website for more information about our Therapeutic Laser Therapy Service.

Conclusion: Taking Action to Resolve or Prevent Pet Obesity

Pet obesity is a serious issue that can have significant consequences for beloved animal companions. From joint problems to diabetes and heart disease, the health risks associated with excess weight can impact the quality and longevity of our pets’ lives.

It’s important to understand the causes and consequences of pet obesity in order to act and prevent weight gain in our furry friends. By incorporating a balanced diet, regular exercise, and portion control, you can help your pets stay fit and healthy.

Regular veterinary check-ups are also crucial in preventing and managing pet obesity. College Hills Veterinary Hospital can provide guidance, support, and personalized recommendations to help your pet achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

Don’t let your pet carry around unnecessary pounds. Act today and prioritize your pet’s health. By being proactive and making the necessary changes to their lifestyle, you can ensure that your furry friend lives a long, happy, and healthy life. Contact us now!

Happy New Year!

Your Caring Team
College Hills Veterinary Hospital

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