Full-figured, fluffy, big for their age?
If that is how you describe your little four legged friend, it could be that he/she is a bit overweight. We hear about the growing issue of obesity and diabetes in the human population but it is not restricted to humans. Your little pumpkin Fido or Hercules can also be overweight, even obese.
Just as it is serious with humans, it can also be serious with our pets and it affects between 25-50 percent of all dogs and 25 percent of cats. If your pet is more than 15 percent over its ideal weight you need to take steps to bring the weight down. Negative health effects begin when an animal is 10-15 percent overweight.
How will you know if your pet is overweight?
Check the ribcage. If you can feel the fat between the skin and the ribs your pet is a candidate for “pet weight watchers”. If you cannot feel the ribs at all then your little one is actually obese. Sometimes a little “budda belly” on your cat or dog will also indicate your pet is obese.
Due to different hormonal changes, obesity is more prevalent in neutered males, and females. This is hard on their little joints and can cause a multitude of other medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, decreased immunity, heart conditions etc.
The same as in a human, when a baby puppy or kitten is overfed as a young animal their body produces an increased number of fat cells and sets them up to obesity as adult animals.
In many cases a pet will arrive at this weight as a result of overeating today’s commercial pet food, snacks, table food and whatever they can get as “treats” throughout the day.
What should I do if I think my pet is overweight?
Your trusted veterinarian should be able to confirm if your pet is overweight as there are a few other medical conditions that can also cause obesity in pets. You want to rule those out first. Once you know that you are simply dealing with an overweight issue, treat it the same as if you were trying to lose weight: reduce intake of calories and combine it with a daily habit of an increased exercise regime. Your vet will probably prescribe a low fat, high fiber carbohydrate type diet.
All family members in the pet’s environment must be on board and understand the necessity of weight reduction if Fluffy is to live a long and happy life. No giving of treats or extra food. In one instance an indoor/outdoor “weight watcher card carrying cat” on a diet (not mentioning any names) started going from house to house in the neighbourhood begging for little treats. Depending on how serious the weight or obesity problem is you may have to speak to your neighbours as well.
Always consult your vet if you have any questions about your pet’s potential medical condition or obesity issue.