Fat Cats and Portly Pups: Why Pet Obesity is a Real Threat to Pet Health
If the thought of a chunky pet is adorable to you, you’re not alone. Despite all we know about the impact of extra weight on our own health, the topic of overweight pets is often misunderstood. Some of this is fueled by all those cute memes of chubby fur pals, but some is also due to a lack of information and awareness about pet obesity.
Is My Pet Fat or Just Fluffy?
Your friends at Hallsville Veterinary Hospital understand all pets are the epitome of cuteness, so we get why it’s hard to take a critical look at your pet’s overall weight. Plus, it can be very confusing. After all, it’s very easy to overfeed a cat or dog without really knowing.
Do you know how much your pet should be eating per meal? If not, please ask your veterinarian since general feeding guidelines on pet food labels aren’t always one-size-fits-all.
A body condition chart can be useful, which can help you determine whether your pet is under or overweight. Typically, when looking at your pet from above, you should discern a waistline; from the side, the abdomen should slope upward toward the tail. The touch test is also helpful. You should be able to feel your pet’s ribs without too much prodding – if there’s a layer of fat, it might be safe to assume your pet may be carrying some extra pounds.
Because each pet is different, the safest bet to is come in and have your pet weighed periodically, as well as to inquire during your pet’s regular wellness exam.
The Problem With Pet Obesity
Obesity not only raises the risk for conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and liver problems, but it can also reduce your pet’s lifespan by up to 3 years. For our pets, that’s a lot of life – and for us, that’s a lot of love that will be missed.
Some of the problems associated with extra weight include:
- Exercise intolerance
- Increased incidence of orthopedic injuries, such as ligament tears
- Problems with the liver and/or kidneys
- Increased risk of cancer
- Respiratory problems
- Decreased quality of life
Because these issues have such a severe impact on the overall health and happiness of your pet, knowing that pet obesity is preventable is the first step to giving your fur friend the life he or she deserves.
The first and most obvious step to preventing pet obesity is to cut out the treats. We know, we know…but those big begging eyes! Instead, try switching to verbal praise and give plenty of TLC and playtime as rewards (along with a rare snack).
Also inquire with your veterinarian about a diet that will help provide all the nutrition your pet needs without the extra calories. Some pets don’t require a change in diet, only a reduced portion size. Help your pet get moving by committing to at least a 15 minute walk daily or some form of exercise, like swimming, playing fetch, chasing a laser light, or another fun game.
The best time to get the right recommendations is during your pet’s wellness exam. Please call the team at Hallsville to discuss your pet’s weight and nutritional needs. With a little help, your pet will be on his or her way to great health!