Written by the team at our Katikati clinic
Obesity has become a huge problem for today’s pets. Often it stems from us loving them too much and wanting to give them the very best. Sometimes animals can also have underlying health conditions that can cause them to gain weight more easily than others. Weight gain in animals is often viewed as cute and innocent but it can cause some serious health conditions if not addressed. Admittedly it can be hard to resist the puppy dog eyes as they stare up at us at the dinner table but for their health, resisting is often in their best interest.
Pet obesity can pose the following problems:
- Heart and Lung disease
- Stress on Joints; particularly in elderly animals
- Reduced Activity
- Skin & Coat problems
- Urinary stones and obstruction
- Cruciate ligament damage
- Increased risk for Diabetes
Sometimes it can be challenging to notice your pet gaining weight as it is often a gradual change. Unwanted weight gain can occur for many different reasons. Sometimes it is caused by a lack of exercise, feeding adlib, feeding more than the recommended amount or by feeding them human food treats. Feeding human food is often the biggest cause of weight gain in our pets. What may seem like a small harmless piece of cheese can mean a large calorie increase for our pets; especially if their normal food has not been adjusted accordingly.
Your cat and dog may be classed as overweight when the following signs are seen:
- The ribs and spine can no longer be easily felt and a loss of an obvious waist.
- Difficulty breathing
- Their collar needs loosening
- Sagging abdomen or fat pouches
- Difficulty walking
- Struggling with exercise
- Sleeping more than usual
Once the animal has gained excess weight, it is often quite hard to get them back to an ideal size. It usually involves changing old habits and making changes to various areas surrounding our pets’ lives. Changing to a weight loss diet or reducing the amount of their regular diet being fed is a great start. Kitchen scales are a great tool to avoid over feeding, you can weigh out their daily amount and only feed from that allocated portion. Limiting the number of treats that are given and completely removing human food treats can make a big difference. Increasing exercise is also a fantastic tool to promote weight loss. Here are some tips and tricks to get our pets up and moving:
- Start with what your pet can manage and gradually increase the amount of exercise
- Consistency is key
- Small bursts multiple times a day can be just as effective as one long walk.
- Use toys and make it a game
- Involve the whole family
- Make exercise fun- try not to do the same thing every day
- Uphill walks and obstacles are great challenges for dogs
- Scratching posts and fishing toys are great for cats
As a vet clinic we want to see your pets happy and healthy; this includes at an optimal weight. We have all the tips and tricks to keep your pets in top shape so please do not hesitate to come in and have a chat. It is never too late, and you would be surprised how much of a positive effect losing weight has on your pets’ lives.
Tauranga, Te Puna, Katikati and Papamoa Village Vets are running a ‘Biggest Loser’ challenge, that can help your pet reach their optimal weight, while giving you the chance to win big! See here for more details.