Packing on the pounds is just as dangerous for your pet as it is for you. Being overweight or obese can lead to many of the same health problems whether you are a human, dog or cat. Luckily, with your help, your furry friend can easily lose that excess weight and enjoy a healthier, happier life with your help.
How Can I Tell if My Pet Weighs Too Much?
A thin layer of fat covers the ribs in fit dogs and cats. If your run your hand over your pet's body and cannot feel the ribs, your pet may be overweight. Whether you have a dog or cat, you should be able to see a noticeable waist when you stand over your pet.
How Much Food Does My Pet Need?
It's not always easy to determine how much food your pet needs, particularly if it behaves as if it’s starving between feedings. In most cases, your pet has just gotten into the habit of eating frequently and is not quite as hungry as it may seem. Not surprisingly, dogs and cats need drastically fewer calories than people. In fact, a 10-pound cat only needs 180 to 200 calories per day, while a 10-pound dog only needs 200 to 275 calories. Although these numbers apply to the average animal, some pets, such as kittens or puppies, may need a diet that's slightly higher in calories. Older, less active pets may benefit from a diet that's slighter lower in calories than the average.
What Health Problems Are Associated with Excess Weight in Pets?
Diabetes. Both dogs and cats can develop diabetes if they are overweight.
Arthritis. Excess pounds put considerable strain on your pet's joints and can eventually cause arthritis. If your pet seems to be in pain and moves stiffly, arthritis may be the problem.
Hip Dysplasia. If your dog suffers from hip dysplasia, obesity can worsen this painful condition.
Trouble Breathing. Excess fat in the chest and abdomen may make it difficult for the lungs and diaphragm to expand properly, leading to difficulty breathing.
Reduced Energy and Stamina. Those extra pounds require your pet's respiratory system, muscles and heart to work much harder, which can leave your furry friend feeling fatigued.
Coat Problems. Your pet may be more likely to suffer from skin conditions and infections if it is overweight. Skin and coat problems are more common in obese cats because they have trouble grooming themselves.
Increased Risk of Cancer. Adding a few pounds can make your chubby dog or cat more likely to develop cancer.
Decreased Lifespan. Pets that are overweight may have shorter lifespans.
What Can You Do About Your Pet's Weight?
A visit to your pet's veterinarian is the first step if you are concerned about your pet's weight. The vet will rule out any diseases or conditions that could cause weight gain, such as thyroid disease; recommend the best pet food for weight loss; and provide advice on the amount of food your pet should receive based on its age, breed and any health conditions. A healthy diet, combined with plenty of exercise, will help your pet shed weight in no time.
Concerned that your pet may be overweight? We can help your furry friend lose those extra pounds. Call us and schedule an appointment today.