Obesity In Pets – Why Is It Such A Big Deal?
Obesity is becoming an increasing problem in veterinary medicine. A pet is considered obese once it weighs 15-20% more than it’s optimal body weight. To put this into perspective, if a dog or cat’s optimum weight is 4kg and they reach 5kg, they are considered clinically obese. This can have serious implications on your pet’s quality of life and may predispose them to developing other diseases including osteoarthritis and diabetes. The most startling fact is that if your pet is overweight or obese, their life may be shortened by up to two years.
When your pet comes in to us for any appointment, we will weigh them and keep a note of their weight on their file. Owners are often unaware that their pet is actually overweight and some even think their pet is underweight. It is always worth having a conversation with your vet to ask what weight your pet should be! We encourage puppy and kitten owners to drop in on a monthly basis for the first two years of their pets lives. This allows us to monitor their pets weight and make sure that they are gaining the right amount at the right speed. It also has the added benefit of getting your pet in for a few visits without an injection or in-depth clinical examination!
If your pet is overweight, talk to your vet about a program to bring their weight down safely. The main culprit in most cases is overfeeding as opposed to under-exercising. We might start your pet on a special prescription diet which has low calories but will fill your pet up. If your dog is unwilling to walk or struggling to exercise, swimming can be a good alternative as it takes the pressure off the joints. For cats, exercise is best achieved as a game using toys and laser pointers. If your pet does not lose any weight despite your best efforts with a rigorous weight loss strategy, we might test for some endocrine diseases that could explain the excess weight. We will get you to bring your pet in at regular intervals for weight checks and to make sure that you are still happy with their demeanour. It is very rewarding to get your pet down to their target weight!