The Wave of the Future: Say Goodbye to Pet Obesity
More than half of all American cats and dogs are considered overweight or obese. Perhaps even more shocking than the prevalence of pet obesity, however, is the fact that a majority of owners who care for overweight pets erroneously classify their pets in the normal weight range. What’s at the root of this disconnect, and how can we work together to reverse this harmful trend?
Cause and Effect
When excess fat accumulates in the body, pet obesity is diagnosed. The most common reason pets gain weight is overfeeding, but it’s also known to be connected with decreased exercise and/or genetic predisposition, such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease.
The root of overfeeding pets is love, but the high cost of the effects of overeating should never be underestimated.
Developing Health Risks
Pet obesity is responsible for the development of serious health problems, such as:
- Insulin-resistant diabetes (obese pets are 3 times more likely to develop diabetes than pets of normal weights)
- Ligament injuries
- High blood pressure
- Heart and respiratory disease
- Kidney disease
- Certain types of cancers
- Decreased longevity (an average of 2.5 years less)
- Lower quality of life
A significant component of your pet’s routine wellness exam is, of course, taking their weight and comparing it to previous visits. We look for visual markers around the ribs and spine, characterize general body build, search for fatty deposits commonly found on the chest, hips, and base of tail, and assess if a natural waist exists.
To determine where your pet sits on the body condition scale, we’ll discuss breed, sex, age, physical environment, and lifestyle.
Battling Pet Obesity
The bottom line is to measure and serve exact portions for your pet’s breed, size, age, and lifestyle. Depending on need, your pet may benefit from a prescription diet. It’s critical that your pet’s weight loss is gradual. Starving them or making them lose weight too quickly can have its own terrible health consequences. Remember, slow and steady wins the race.
Our friend Roscoe started Hill’s Metabolic Food diet when he weighed 41.3 pounds. After only 8 months on the diet, he lost 9.7 pounds! Roscoe’s success could be your pet’s success, and we’re happy to help you get started.
The Long Haul
While it may be easier to prevent pet obesity, once you change your pet’s diet and offer sufficient exercise everyday, you can stop it from completely taking over your pet’s quality (and quantity) of life.
Please let us know if you have questions or concerns about pet obesity. We’re always here for your pet!