Food is love and we use food to show our pets how much we love them. The reason being is that it feels good to feed pets and know that you're doing the very best for them. Unfortunately, it's easy to go overboard with the feeding of treats and oversized portions that are eagerly gobbled down by a seemingly never-ending appetite on four legs.
The end result is an overweight pet that will eventually suffer from carrying excess weight. Obesity in pets is a common problem seen by the veterinarians at Blue Sky Vet Clinic and is something that severely affects overall pet health. But instead of feeling ashamed of overfeeding your pet, become informed instead. You can show your pet love and help them maintain proper weight. Following is a look at obesity in pets, how to avoid it, and when to see a veterinarian for help.
How Obesity Affects Pet Health
Obesity in pets is a lot more than an animal simply being overweight and needing to go on a diet. Cats and dogs who are 20% over their bodyweight are at increased risk of disorders that include:
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Difficulty breathing
- Coronary heart disease
- Decreased liver function
- Soft tissue damage
- Increased risk of death during surgical procedures
All of these issues affect overall pet health regardless of species or sex and reduces a pet's quality of life along with their lifespan. All of these issues are easily avoided by doing what's right for your pet and only going the extra distance for them now and again.
Steps You Can Take to Avoid Obesity in Your Pets
There's nothing wrong with giving a treat for good behavior or using a bit of kibble as a reward for responding to a command. Sometimes you toss your pets a treat for no other reason than to give them something they enjoy. When you overfeed the treats or give them snacks between meals, you start pets on a path to food expectation and obesity.
Keep the treats infrequent unless you're working on reinforcing a behavior or make the pet "work" for their treat by throwing it and making them run after it. Your pet won't know they're being made to run to help them maintain their weight. Instead, they see a reward at the end of their dash. Other things you can do is to feed small meals multiple times a day if possible, maintain a set feeding time, encourage exercise with toys, go on longer walks, and find novel ways to engage them in an activity. Use a weight chart to determine an appropriate portion size for the species and/or breed of pet and adjust accordingly.
When to Call the Vet
The time to call the vet for an obesity exam is when you're noticing your pet is looking a bit rotund, is lacking in energy, or is losing the ability to keep up with you on walks of any length. Cats are notorious for a seeming lack of energy, but if they're not active during their waking hours and look overweight, they should be brought in Blue Sky Vet Clinic for an evaluation.
Most pets respond to weight loss efforts with a little bit of negative behavior that eventually resolves itself. However, there are some pets that eat due to stressful experiences in their past and need more than diet and exercise to lose the extra pounds. Our veterinarians can diagnose the underlying issue and create a treatment plan to help your pet lose weight and experience less food stress.