Obesity in pets is becoming a problem across the country. In this post, our Austin vets will go over the causes, symptoms, and treatment for this growing problem.
What is obesity in pets?
When your pet is obese, their health, welfare, and quality of life are all negatively impacted by having too much body fat. We think obesity is a serious problem for a pet's welfare because it can lead to pain and be very crippling. Additionally, it might make it difficult for your pet to engage in routine activities like exercise
Health Problems Linked to Obesity
There are many conditions that have been linked to obesity, such as:
- Heart disease
- Respiratory distress
- High blood pressure
Causes of Obesity in Pets
Obesity in pets is usually due to eating too much, lack of physical exercise, or both. Owners may view food as a way to reward and treat their pets, which contributes to overfeeding. Pets confined to a house or small yard are not regularly exercised and are more prone to obesity.
How to Tell if Your Dog is Overweight
If you think that your canine companion may be overweight it's time to head to the vet for a checkup. Your veterinarian will weigh your pooch, perform a thorough examination to determine your pup's overall health, then let you know if your dog is overweight based on their breed and build.
Carrying excess weight can be a contributing factor to many serious and painful conditions in dogs. This is why it's so important to help your dog maintain a healthy weight throughout their lifetime.
If you aren't sure whether a trip to the vet is called for, here are some signs that will give you a good indication of whether or not your dog is carrying extra weight.
Consider Your Dog's Fitness Level
- Overweight dogs often pant even when walking relatively slowly, and may walk slower or need to take more naps than before.
Feel For Your Pup's Ribs
- If your pooch is a healthy weight you should be able to feel its ribs without a thick layer of fat over them. Your dog's chest should be wider than its abdomen, and there will be a noticeable tuck-up from chest to stomach about where its waist should be (see illustration below).
Checkout Your Pooch's Figure
- Dogs that are overweight will generally have no visible waistline and no distinction between the chest and stomach when viewed side-on. See the illustration below to get a better understanding of how your dog should look from the side.
How to Tell if Your Cat is Overweight
Below are a few suggestions on how to tell if your cat is overweight. If you believe that your kitty is carrying a few extra ounces or even pounds, a quick trip to the vet can help to rule out serious underlying conditions and provide you with strategies for getting your feline friend back to a healthy weight.
Struggling to Jump
- A cat's body is beautifully built for running and jumping. If it takes your cat multiple tries to jump up onto their favorite piece of furniture, or if your cat gives up altogether, there's a good chance that weight is the problem.
Check for Your Cat's Waistline
- While your cat is standing, look down at them from directly above. Try to spot a slight indent just above your cat's hips where their waist should be (this can be a bit tricky with long-haired cats). If you can't see their waist or if their sides are bulging it means that your feline friend is probably carrying excess weight.
Feel for Your Cat's Ribs
- If your cat is about the right weight you should be able to feel its ribs by running your hand along its chest. If you can't feel your kitty's ribs, your cat may be overweight.
Use Our Overweight Cat Chart
- Look over the overweight cat chart below to get a better understanding of your cat's weight category, and whether your cat may be carrying an extra pound or two.
Treating Obesity in Pets
Weight gain can be a symptom of a serious underlying illness, so if you think that your pet is overweight a trip to the vet is definitely called for. If your vet determines that your pet is overweight and there are no underlying illnesses causing the weight gain, they will recommend a diet and exercise plan to help get your pet's weight back on track safely.
Here are a few things that your vet may recommend to help your four-legged friend shed those extra pounds.
- Keep to a regular exercise schedule for your pet can work wonders. Especially for dogs, this includes going for walks twice a day and playtime outside once a day. Playing fetch or frisbee can help you and your pet to form a closer bond as well as provide your pup with a fun way to burn a few extra calories.
Diet & Feeding
- Your vet will be able to calculate just the right number of calories to feed your pet at each meal and prescribe a low-calorie diet food to help your pet reach a healthier weight. Be sure your pet eats at the same time every day, and that you measure out the portions carefully based on the ideal weight for their breed (or size).
Yearly (or Twice-Yearly) Checkups
- Even when you're sure that there is nothing wrong with your pet, routine wellness exams are important. Annual or twice-yearly wellness exams give your vet the opportunity to monitor your pet's weight and spot the early signs of illness so that conditions can be treated before they become more serious.
If your pet begins following a weight loss plan, visit your vet for follow-up appointments so that your pet's progress can be monitored and dietary adjustments made if necessary
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.