Fat Pets Aren’t Funny: Battling Pet Obesity

iStock_000033020314_MediumObesity is a serious problem in this country, and our pets have not gone unaffected. In fact more than half the nation’s pets are obese or overweight. Pet Obesity is one of the top health problems we see, and there is nothing cute about it.

Why an Obese Pet is Not Healthy

While the media is littered with funny pictures and videos of overweight dogs and cats, having an obese pet is not a good thing. Pets who are overweight live much shorter lives and are prone to developing many diseases and complications including:

  • Osteoarthritis
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Respiratory problems
  • Many types of cancer

How to Tell if Your Pet is Obese

With overweight pets being the norm, it can be difficult to tell if your pet needs to lose weight. While we are always happy to counsel you on a healthy weight for your pet, you should be able to easily determine at home if your pet is at the correct weight.

Start by evaluating your pet from a distance. Can you see his or her waist? Are there areas of fat deposits that are visible? Next, take a hands on approach. You should be able to feel ribs through the coat and fat without pressing too hard. This can help give you an idea whether you pet may be carrying some extra weight. Be honest with yourself – what are your really seeing and feeling?

We can help determine your pet’s body condition score as well. This number can help us determine the best goal weight for your pet, and what areas need to be addressed to accomplish this goal.

Battling Pet Obesity

If your pet is overweight, it is time to formulate a game plan.

So what can you do? Just as with people, there is no magic cure. Overall body condition comes down to calories consumed and calories burned. Indoor or older pets may have a hard time burning the calories that they eat. Start with the following:

Calculate calories – We can help you to determine how many calories your pet should be taking in each day compared to how many they are currently consuming.

Slow and steady – Make any changes gradually.

Measure – It is easy to overfeed pets if you are not physically measuring out their food. Invest in a cheap measuring cup dedicated to your pet.

Get moving – Exercise is essential to a healthy pet. Get up and get them moving. The level and type of exercise should be tailored to your individual pet. Pets should be active for at least 15 minutes per day.

Make your pet work – Many pets do best if their food is kept some distance from their normal hangouts. Some pets also enjoy a food dispensing ball or other toy to ration out his or her food.

Consider a diet change – Depending on your pet, you may need to consider changing his or her diet. We are happy to help you evaluate your options and recommend a new food. Some pets do best on a prescription diet such as Hill’s Prescription Metabolic Diet which is designed to be tasty and beneficial to pets with a slower metabolism while controlling appetite.

Helping your pet maintain a healthy weight through good nutrition and regular exercise is an important part of your pet’s preventative care.  It isn’t healthy for anyone, human or animal, to be overweight. Sometimes this is more difficult than it seems, but we are always here to help.

Please let us know if you need help formulating a weight loss or prevention program for your pet. At Prairie Ridge Veterinary Clinic, it’s our goal for your pets to live long, healthy lives; and we are happy to help in any way possible.