More Than Holiday Weight: Pet Obesity and Nutrition

Leon_iStock_000032845548_LargePossibly one of the most staggering statistics we’ve seen lately states that over half of all our nation’s cats and dogs. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 54% of all American cats and dogs are considered overweight or obese. What does this mean for your pet?

There is a great deal you can do now if your pet is tipping the scale and, by actively participating in your pet’s optimal balance of nutrition and exercise, your pet may live longer and enjoy a higher quality of life.

How to Prevent Pet Obesity

As with most health concerns, prevention is the key. Controlling food portions, limiting snacks and treats, and maintaining a daily exercise routine will help to regulate your pet’s silhouette. Pets love food as much as we do and pet owners erroneously give in to begging and whining. Remember, food is not love. Show affection by grooming, snuggling, playing, or getting out of the house together.

Is My Pet Obese?

Obesity is basically an accumulation of fat in your pet’s body that leads to extra weight. Overeating paired with decreased activity levels are just two components contributing to obesity. Pets are considered obese when they weigh 20% over the ideal body weight for specific species and breed. Take a look at your pet’s physique, paying special attention to these guidelines:

  • Ribcage – While running your palms along your pet’s sides, you should feel the ribs separated by a thin layer of tissue.
  • Side View – A visual “tuck” following your pet’s abdomen is indicative of healthy body weight.
  • Bird’s Eye – Seen from above, your pet should not have any bulges protruding from either side. The lines from shoulder to hip should narrow slightly or be straight.

If you have doubts about your pet’s weight and diet, we will swiftly address these at your pet’s wellness exam. If weight loss is necessary, we can strategize a plan to control your pet’s caloric intake and place exercise recommendations.

The Perils of Obesity

Nope, fat cats and plump pooches aren’t cute – even if the development of unique maladies associated with obesity aren’t yet present. The problems stemming from obesity in a pet typically include:

  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Insulin resistance
  • Hypertension that can lead to kidney or eye diseases
  • Liver dysfunction
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Respiratory and cardiopulmonary diseases
  • Joint pain or arthritis
  • Lower immunity
  • Many forms of cancer
  • Decreased life expectancy

True, a pet coping with any of the above is a tough reality, but it is certainly not hopeless. The combination of scrutinizing your pet’s diet and the calories he or she needs to thrive plus proper fitness can equal overall health. If left untreated, obesity can undoubtedly alter your pet’s quality of life and his or her longevity.

Precious Pets Deserve the Best

Let’s work together to prevent or manage the dangerous conditions resulting from pet obesity. Obesity is responsible for a tremendous amount of suffering that your precious pet doesn’t deserve. Taking the steps now can help your pet lead a happy, comfortable, and long life.

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