By: Liz Paul
Obesity is a very common problem in pets and can lead to many health problems. A whopping 56% of cats and 60% of dogs in North America are classified as overweight or obese. That’s more than 80 million pets at greater risk of serious health issues. However, only 10% of pet owners think their pet is overweight.
WHY IS PET OBESITY A PROBLEM?
Plenty of evidence now exists showing that excess fat deposits in dogs and cats are associated with many serious health complications. Obesity contributes to the risk of disease including diabetes, osteoarthritis, heart disease, hypertension, kidney disease, increased joint injuries and some forms of cancer. All these conditions can eventually decrease your pet’s lifespan.
SIGNS OF OBESITY IN ANIMALS
- Excessive weight gain
- No or little visible waistline
- The collar becomes tighter
- Sagging belly
- Cannot feel the ribcage
- Lack of grooming
- Constipation or gassy
- A bigger, rounder face
- A reluctance to go for walks or lagging behind
- Excessive panting
- Needing help getting in and out of cars
- Lack of mobility or struggle to stand, walk or jump
- Refusal to move or play games
There are many steps that you can take to help prevent obesity in your pets. Start by asking your veterinarian to help you choose the most appropriate food for your pet based on your pet’s lifestyle and activity. Next consider portion control and mealtimes which can be critical in prevention of obesity. Finally, keep your pet active with regular exercise. Remember, consistency is key to maintaining a healthy weight for your pets.
If you think your pet may be obese, talk to your veterinarian about developing a weight loss plan specifically tailored to your pet. This plan should include regular exercise/playtime, a healthy and nutritious diet, less treats or a treat exchange and regular weight checks to monitor your pet’s progress.
Maintaining a healthy weight for your pet helps to ensure they will live a long, happy, and healthy life.
ABOUT DR. VEJA TILLMAN, DVM
Dr. Tillman is a 2002 graduate of Tuskegee University School of Veterinary Medicine. Her veterinary practice and work experience focuses on health and wellness of pets in Southwest Florida. She is the owner of Just 4 Pets Wellness Center and can be reached at 239-270-5721.