October 13th is National Pet Obesity Awareness Day! Just like in humans, pet obesity is a serious health issue that can lead to other concerning medical conditions. Here are some quick facts and tips for keeping your furry kiddos in tip-top shape!
How common is obesity in cats and dogs?
Obesity is the most common chronic health condition in cats and dogs in the U.S. Vets and pet parents alike know that the majority of the pets we see today are unfortunately obese.
This is a huge issue in cats especially. We know fluffy kitties are cute! But we want them to stay healthy to!
How do I know if my pet is obese?
We have some handy, dandy charts for that! The key thing to look for in our furry friends is they want to have a waist like most people want to have a waist. So standing above them and looking down, you should see that waist. It should also be visible from the side!
You should be able to feel your pet’s ribs but NOT see them all except in very thin breeds like Greyhounds (dog) and Sphynxes (cat.
Consequences of Pet Obesity
Obesity in pets, just like in people, leads to several concerning health conditions. Below I have listed some of the more common conditions and how they affect your pet’s overall health.
Arthritis and joint pain are usually the first conditions we see secondary to obesity. Extra weight puts a lot of extra stress on the joints, thus leading to inflammation and pain. We can manage with medications as needed but getting those pounds off are most effective!
Diabetes is the next most common, long-term effect of obesity in our pets. Having so much fat in the body leads to blood sugar regulation issues. That means we will have to monitor their blood sugar levels and they will need insulin injections and/or special food.
Heart disease is very common in our overweight pets. Once the heart is damaged, it is permanently damaged. That means while we can medically manage it, we cannot undo it.
Heart disease is usually treated with lifelong medications, x-rays, and exams.
How do I put my pet on a diet?
We have all been on diets and they are NOT fun. On the bright side, we are in total control of what and how much our pets eat thus, dieting is pretty simple. We recommend the following steps:
- Decrease your pet’s daily amount of food and decrease it by a quarter (ex: If your pet eats 1 cup of food a day, start feeding them 3/4 cup)
- Yes it is highly recommended to measure their food every time!
- Replace that quart of their food with low-calorie, yummy filler food:
- Boiled sweet potatoes
- Defrosted carrot slices
- Defrosted green beans
- Boiled white meat chicken
- No treats!! We have all had our diets ruined by sneaking a brownie or a donut. Let’s be more successful with our pets!
- EXERCISE!! Whether we like it or not, exercise is huge for weight loss. Even if it is only throwing the ball, playing with a laser, or short walks, some exercise is better than no exercise!