Obesity is a big problem in our pets. It is easy to keep giving treats and snacks but over time this can lead to weight increase which can make your pet slow down and be prone to diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, poor coat condition, urinary infections, shortened lifespan and heart disease. What makes it more difficult is an overweight pet will still appear to be happy, a dog will still wag its tail even if it has painful arthritis and a cat will sleep happily, but they can both be more active, live longer and better if we slim them down. This is very challenging as our pet looks up at us lovingly as we approach the biscuit tin!
The first step is to recognise your pet is overweight. We can use weight tables but a Labrador can weigh 25kg and be fine or overweight if it is of a smaller build, so we have to use weight alongside a Body Score. The Body Score is a way of estimating the amount of fat on an animal by assessing its shape as well as whether we can see or feel various bones. To complicate thinsg further the way we score dogs varies from breed to breed and size of dog and is different again for cats!
In an otherwise fit animal, there are only two variables as far as weight goes, they are diet and exercise. To diet a pet we have to increase one and/or decrease the other. Giving a dog more exercise is usually pretty straightforward, in older pets we may need to help by providing relief from arthritic pain but taking him or her for longer or more frequent walks is the way to go. Cats are more of a challenge, a cat that is unfit or overweight will tend to sleep more, we often like to see our cats sleeping around the house which makes it harder still. You can exercise your cat by playing with it, moving the food bowl around the house or up and down the stairs, also good exercise for us!
Diet reduction either means feeding less or changing to a lower calorie food. Most brands of pet food now have a lower calorie version and at the vets we have some balanced ultra low calorie diets to keep a pet feeling full but losing weight, please ask us for details. there are also some fat burning drugs that can be used as a last resort. we also sell low calories treats so you can still spoil your pet without adding to the pounds.
Some interesting facts;
One 190g rawhide bone contains 699kcal, that’s equivalent to a human eating 7 doughnuts!
Giving a cat 100ml of milk is the equivalent of three doughnuts for a person!