Obesity in Pets and How to Prevent It

Many people think food is love. While this may be the case overfeeding can be harmful to your pet’s health. We tend to give treats as a sign of love and often reward our animals with food that is often made for human consumption, and it is often higher in calories and fat.

People may wonder if there are any other contributing factors to their pet being overweight. Did you know that spaying and neutering your pet early on their life can also lead to obesity? While many doctors believe spaying and neutering are good for population control, and good for the animal’s long term health of pets, the hormonal changes associated with ‘fixing’ your pet can lead to decreased calories required. The slower the metabolic rate will require less food to maintain a healthy weight.

Lack of exercise is also a major contributing factor. We are busy in our daily lives, more than ever before, many pet owners just let their pet out in the back yard and hope that it will be enough exercise for the animal. For dogs, they require interaction and participation from their owner. Some dogs love to play fetch, and some dogs like to go for a swim. For many other dogs, a nice walk in the park is all that is needed for the ideal body weight.

Exercising cats is not as easy. Most people believe it is safer for a cat to live their long and healthy lives indoors. Indoor cats tend to become lazy potatoes, and often leads to weight gain. Feeding your kitty by playing a game is an excellent way to get exercise, you can hide the food from them and make them go hunting for it, you can put is in a puzzle or a food dispensing toy. It is a good way to make them work for their food while they exercise.

Another contributing factor has been the change in what is seen as the normal for pets weight. Many pet owners don’t know that their animal is overweight. Many dog and cat owners see their animal within the normal rage. It has changed over the years, people see chunky dogs and cats, and they perceive it as normal because “Hey, my pet looks like that’s too!” So often, when we see an animal that is an ideal weight, we often look at them and think to ourselves, “That dog is too skinny.” People don’t put weight on overnight, and neither do our pets. Weight gain is a gradual thing, we are around our pets every day, so we often don’t see the difference, but for a small cat or dog, a few pounds can make a huge difference.

There are many consequences of obesity. It is more likely for cats and dogs to get early arthritis than their slimmer furry friends. Being overweight also plays a huge role in diabetes. Obese cats usually have a hard time cleaning and grooming themselves, cleaning and grooming is an essential part of being feline. If they are unable to groom themselves, it often leads to a matted stinky mess. If felines are not able to fit in their litter box, it can lead to accidents around the house.

How can you prevent obesity? Regularly weighing your pet will help you notice if your pet is gaining or losing weight. If your pet is already obese, changing their diet, lowering the amount of food you feed them, and monitoring their caloric intake can play a huge role in getting the ideal body condition score for your pet.

Please give us a call if you have any questions about your pet.

Written by: Qavah Tiede, ACA