OBESITY in animals… It is a problem.
Just as with humans, obesity can be a huge problem in animals and if ignored it
can cause major health problems – and in some instances be fatal.
As hard as it is for some people to admit, the owner is ultimately responsible for
the amount of calories consumed by their pet and hence responsible for the
animal being obese.
The biggest issue we see when trying to get animals to lose weight is owner compliance.
Just as with our own diets, there are a number of weight loss foods out there, but with the right veterinary advice, exercise and calorie intake the weight does come off and it is amazing to see the difference in the animals and watch them return to a healthy happy pet.
The first thing our clients start to notice is the amount of energy their pets seem to have ‘they are like a different dog’ ‘running around more’ ‘they just seem happier in themselves’.
We love hearing this positive feedback and we want the weight to come off just as much as you do.
Health problems that can develop due to being obese include arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, difficulty breathing and depression.
All of these occur with humans and if you have experienced any of them, you will be aware how painful they can be, and will understand that it can be a huge welfare issue for the animal.
Anesthetic risks vary in animals however there is always a risk, and the risk is dramatically increased if an animal is overweight, to the point where some surgeries may be postponed until an animals weight is reduced.
Dogs are more prone to weight gain than cats; however any animal can become obese.
Regular exercise is important, but if the animal is already obese, you need to be aware of other health concerns such as arthritis and shortness of breath before making sudden changes to try and reduce the animal’s weight, to avoid doing more damage.
In overweight dogs, the risk of tearing or rupturing a cruciate ligament is increased.
Weight should be lost and exercise slowly increased.
Like humans, 80 per cent of an animal’s weight loss is related to how much food they eat and 20 per cent is related to exercise.
A lot of people are unaware their pet is overweight, and sometimes, even if we suggest they are, some clients can’t see it.
A simple thing to do at home is to run your hands over the animal’s spine and ribs.
You want to be able to feel them without having to apply too much pressure.
If the ribs and spine are prominent, the animal is likely underweight, however if you have to
apply a fair amount of pressure to be able to feel them, then the animal is most probably overweight.
All the little extra bits and bobs that people feed to an animal may not seem like a lot, but they are.
For example, 30g of cheese for a dog is the equivalent to a human eating 1.5 burgers and for a cat it is the equivalent to 2.5.
As much as we like to think our little fury friends are like humans, sadly they aren’t, they don’t have anywhere near as many taste buds as we do, and they can’t digest and metabolise a lot of foods the way we can.
So even though you think you are being nice and doing the right thing giving them extra bit of foods, you tend to do more damage than good.
Some foods are even toxic to them – chocolate, grapes, raisins and onions to name a few.
Feeding a good quality complete pet diet at the correct amounts is sufficient for an animal to live a healthy long life they don’t always need all the variety that we do.
Trying to reduce an animal’s weight should be done with guidance from your vet.
Reducing the amount of food you normal feed can lead to your pet not receiving all the correct nutrients and calories that they require for a normal active life.
This is why you should book a time with your vet to discuss the different types of weight loss food to suit both yourselves and your pet, and to make a weight loss program you can both stick to.
Animals can safely lose 1-2 per cent of their body weight a week, but it can be lost too quickly which is why it is so important to seek guidance from your vet and make sure the weight is lost safely and correctly.
It doesn’t happen overnight (just like the old Pantene shampoo ad!) and we are here for you and your pet every step of the way.
If done correctly the weight will come off, and you can watch and enjoy your animal live a long healthy life.