Obesity in Pets
Author: Pet Station Date Posted: 16 September 2021
Obesity happens when your pet has accumulated an excessive amount of body fat. This fat buildup occurs when your pet consumes more food than they need for their daily activities. Some disorders and medication can also abnormally promote obesity, even with a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Is Your Pet Obese?
You'll know your pet is obese when they have excess body fat. If your pet weighs 10–20% more than their ideal weight, then chances are your pet is overweight. If they weigh 20% or more above their ideal body weight, then they are considered obese. You can find out your pet’s ideal body weight by speaking with your vet.
Risks of Pet Obesity
Obesity may not look too serious, but it poses some serious threats and can even shorten your pet's lifespan. It's been proven that excess weight is linked with several diseases. For example, studies have shown that severely fat pets are vulnerable to osteoarthritis, hypertension, and various cancers. To give you a clearer picture, here's some of the most common health issues related to pet obesity:
Extra weight puts unnecessary pressure on your pet's joints. This additional pressure causes the cartilage in their joints to deteriorate, which leads to arthritis. You can remedy arthritis with prescriptive food and medication from the vet, but weight loss significantly helps manage and prevent arthritis.
Due to the extra pressure, being overweight makes your pet more susceptible to tearing their ACL or anterior cruciate ligament: an important ligament that supports the knee. Unfortunately, the ACL can only be repaired with surgery, which can cost you a lot of money and cause discomfort for your pet.
Heart Disorders & More
It's a well-known fact that weight gain can cause pulmonary hypertension or high blood pressure, leading to breathing problems and heart diseases. Moreover, obese cats and dogs are also more prone to a failing trachea and laryngeal paralysis. If left untreated, these conditions may cause more severe respiratory issues, some of them even fatal.
Obesity also makes your pets more susceptible to specific tumours. Some examples of them are harmless, like lipomas (benign fatty tumours). However, some are risky and cancerous. One example is transitional cell carcinoma, which is a cancer found in the bladder.
Obese dogs and cats tend to have extra skin folds. Thus, the bacteria that can breed in these folds and the continued rubbing of the skin can cause irritation and infection. These skin problems can lead to further issues like scratching, body odour and skin redness.
Reduced Quantity and Quality of Life
When your pets become obese, they'll have a more difficult time moving around. Carrying the extra weight takes a toll on them; it makes them tire out more quickly and they are less likely to enjoy moving.
How to Manage and Prevent Pet Obesity
Before you restrict any food intake and decide on a diet for your pet, you must first get an accurate evaluation from your vet. Your vet then can assess your pet’s condition and body mass index (BMI) to check if their weight is within normal range, or they are overweight or obese. Your vet can give you an estimated ideal body weight you can use as a guide during your pet's weight loss journey. In addition, they can assess your pet's BMI score each time you visit so you can track your pet's condition.
Always remember that healthy weight loss should take place gradually. Sudden loss of significant weight can cause serious health problems or be a sign that something else is wrong with your pet. Therefore, you need to closely watch your pet’s weight.
Make sure to prevent weight problems in growing puppies and kittens. If a young pet experiences weight issues growing up, chances are, they'll have an unhealthy body weight in adulthood. Ensure they are fed a suitable diet and have plenty of opportunities to exercise. Speak to your vet for more information.
Here are a few practical pet obesity prevention and management strategies you can try.
Proper Diet and Portion Control
Ask your veterinarian about the best food to feed your pet. Puppies and kittens need food specially formulated for their life stage to meet their specific nutritional needs. Remember, large and small-breed puppies need different nutrient profiles. For the same reasons, adult and senior pets also have different dietary needs. They need specific formulations to help them achieve optimal health.
Some pet foods also address certain disorders, such as arthritis, heart diseases, and more. Your veterinarian can suggest or prescribe which one is good for your pet. Check out our wide range of food categories to see what's suitable for your pet.
Of course, when it comes to managing weight, portion control is an absolute necessity. Most pet owners overestimate the amount of food to feed their pets, so it's best to ask your trusty vet for a recommended portion and stick to it. It can help to use a standardised measuring scoop to ensure you always feed your pet the same amount of food each time.
Schedule specific meal times for your pets too. Your pets are smart; they will quickly learn when food is available. This will help them minimise what we may perceive as begging behaviour.
You can also try using interactive feeding toys with your pets. These are a fun way to feed your pets and encourage weight loss. The toys get your pets to work a little bit for their food, so they eat more slowly and burn calories.
Exercise for Weight Loss
Getting your pets exercising more can also help with weight loss. For dogs healthcare, nothing beats a good run or walk. So put on the collar, take out the leash, and get out there together. You'll both experience fun, thrilling exercise and your dog will surely appreciate some one-on-one time together.
You can also play fetch with their toys, or try other activities, like swimming. Keep your vet in the loop of any high-intensity activities you and your dog undertake, and make sure to condition your dog's endurance gradually to make it safe.
For cats healthcare, ten to fifteen-minute exercise from time to time is enough. Keep in mind that your cat is a natural hunter, so they'll get motivated if you tease them with feathers, mouse toys, or anything that exercises their hunting skills. You can explore different cat toys to keep them excited with their exercises.
To make sure the exercise is working, schedule regular weigh-ins at the vet to track both weight and body condition scores in your pet's medical record. Trends go up and down in cat and dog obesity. These can be identified early so that you can make minor feeding adjustments. Minor feeding and lifestyle changes are always easier to make than major transformations.
Keep Your Pet Healthy
Pet obesity statistics have shown that one-third of cats and almost half of dogs in Australia are overweight. It is an ongoing epidemic amongst pets that could have a more detrimental outcome. Nevertheless, obesity is not impossible to overcome. It may take a lot of time, but overweight pets can get back to a healthier size with your help. Don't forget to involve your vet in your pet's weight loss journey; they ensure that your pet goes through this safely.
Now that we've presented some hard pet obesity facts, you're ready to help your pet develop a healthier lifestyle! And we at Pet Station are here to help and supply everything you need, from healthy pet food to exciting toys to encourage exercise.