Obesity in Pets

Courtesy of www.umich.edu

What most pet parents may not realize is that obesity in pets may cause other health problems.  According to Dr. Sophie Steele, DVM, a 5 pound weight gain in a cat is the equivalent to a 130 pound person gaining 70 pounds.  Excess weight puts extra stress on joints causing problems such as arthritis, digenerative joint disorder, or hip dysplasia. Obesity can also lead to secondary problems such as diabetes, heart disease, decreased liver function, reproductive issues, and possibly even reduce the life of your pet.

If you believe your pet is overweight, there are many methods to help your pet lose weight.

  • First, make an appointment with your veterinarian to create a weight loss plan.  Your vet can help figure out your pet’s ideal weight and the best method to help with weight loss.
  • There are several varieties of prescription foods that can help with weight loss.  There are special foods which are high in fiber and low in calories that have been created to help your pet lose weight.  There are also diets that help maintain weight once you pet has reached it’s ideal weight.
  • Try cutting an extra treats out of your pet’s diet.  Many treats sold in pet stores are extremely high in calories.  Take a second when buying treats to read the ingredients and amount of calories before purchase.  Try giving your pet low calorie treats or healthy foods such as chopped apples or carrots.  By cutting out the extra treats and keeping your pet on a normal diet, weight loss can occur naturally.
  • When creating new goals, why not include your pet?  Try creating an exercise routine that includes you pet.  Jogging with your dog will not only help both pet and owner lose weight but also help the bonding process.  Outdoor exercise also helps create mental stimulus for your pet.  Be careful not to start your pet with too rigorous of an exercise routine.  Start with small outings and then work your way up to longer walks or jogs.
  • Try signing your dog up for swimming classes or take your dog out to dog beach.  Swimming is a great way for dogs to lose weight and does not create as much stress on joints as regular exercise.  Talk with your vet about getting a referral for aquatic therapy for your pet.
  • Cats need exercise too.  Try buying toys that will get your cat active.  Toys with long strings and feathers can intrigue your cat and make them more active.  Small balls for batting around the house can also perk your cats attention and make them more active.  Try engaging your cat in play to help them lose weight.
  • When all other options have failed, there are also medications to help your pet lose weight.  Medications can help pets that have genetic weight gain and other problems leading to obesity.

Our hospital shares in pet owners’ concerns in promoting a long and healthy life for their pet.  By keeping your pet at an ideal weight, eating healthy foods, and keeping active, your pet will enjoy a longer, happier life.  Always consult with your vet to figure out your pets ideal body weight and the best method for weight loss.