Monday, September 10, 2018

Is Your Pet Struggling with Obesity?

As of 2014, an estimated 53 percent of dogs and 58 percent of cats have been found to be overweight.* Obesity is unfortunately a common (and increasing) problem among our pets here in the US, and it’s shortening their lives. To enjoy the best possible quality of life, companion animals need a balanced diet and plenty of activity.

*Association for Pet Obesity Prevention 

Common Causes
There are various reasons that could explain the uptick in pet obesity. These include:

· Overfeeding – This might seem obvious, but it is also a serious problem. Many pet owners believe that they’re showing their pets that they love them by constantly feeding them extra food, treats, and table scraps. While it may be hard to say no to your pet when they beg for a snack, it’s important to consider the consequences that will result from overfeeding. Our pets don’t know any better, but we do! Plus, human foods are often higher in calories and fats which can quickly add pounds to our pets.

· Little to no exercise – Like us, our pets need exercise to burn calories and stay in shape. Certain breeds require much more activity than others, so it’s essential to consider what breed of animal will be best suited to your lifestyle before you adopt. In addition to gaining weight, pets that aren’t exercised frequently may become destructive due to boredom.

· Overweight is the new normal – What was considered a normal, healthy weight for humans 20 years ago is different today. Weight gain is commonplace, so it doesn’t seem all that unusual in today’s world and is harder to identify. This also applies to our pets.

· Not recognizing when a pet is overweight – Weight gain is generally gradual, and since you see your pet every day, you might not notice that they’re looking a little thicker around the middle. Unfortunately, this means that a large percent of owners do not realize that their pets are not within a normal, healthy weight range.

Health Risks that Come with Obesity
There are many health issues that pets can develop as a result of obesity, such as:

· Arthritis
· Cancer
· Diabetes
· Poor hygiene due to having difficulty grooming
· Having accidents outside of the litter box (cats)
· Clinical depression (a possibility for pets that engage in minimal daily activity)

Overall, overweight pets are more likely to have a shorter lifespan and a lower quality of life. Furthermore, treating the issues associated with your pet’s obesity can be costly and stressful.

Preventing Obesity in Your Pet

· Exercise is essential. At the very least, make sure you walk your dog at least once a day and/or play with your cat for about 20 minutes per day. You can also make feeding time more interesting by using a food puzzle or toy that dispenses food/treats when your cat plays with it. Look for ways to make ordinary activities more exciting for your pet. When in doubt, let us know if you have questions. We’d be happy to offer suggestions!

· Avoid overfeeding. Talk to our team about creating a healthy diet plan for your pet. This will include what type of food your pet needs, how much they need, and how often. We understand that you might feel guilty cutting your pet’s portions and keeping their treats to a minimum, but think about it this way—you’re showing your pet that you love them by working to keep them healthy and happy!

· Find other ways to show them how much they mean to you. Play with them, take them for walks, and give them extra snuggles. These are great ways to bond with your four-legged best friend.

When treating obesity in pets, it’s important to remember that their weight loss should be gradual. This is especially necessary for cats, as rapid weight loss may lead to liver disease. To begin your pet on the road to a healthier weight and a happier life, please call us at (412) 882-3070!

Source: American Animal Hospital Association