At PetPeople we are a group of dedicated and passionate pet people. We are so enthusiastic to engage our customers, exchange information, and work together to solve common pet problems. We hope you will continue to come to us with questions, problems or situations regarding your pets’ care. It is our goal to be a partner with you and your veterinarian in the health and well-being of your pet.
While we are happy to advise you and share our knowledge with you, we would never propose that our recommendations be used instead of consulting with your veterinarian about any concerns or issues. You know your pet better than anyone, and should always use your best judgement regarding obtaining the best care for your pet. ©2015 PetPeople Enterprises, LLC
Current medical opinion considers a pet obese if it weighs 15% or more over it’s ideal weight. That may not sound like much, but consider that a for a 10 pound Yorkie, that is only an extra 1 ½ pounds! An estimated 50% of the pet population in the United States is considered overweight or obese. That translates to 33 million overweight dogs and 51 million overweight cats. Obesity is the leading cause of preventable disease in dogs and cats – veterinarians now consider obesity to be the most common disease among household pets.
What Health Problems Does Obesity Cause?
Obesity can cause and exacerbate a wide variety of health problems. Excess weight causes and contributes to many painful and debilitating conditions such as diabetes mellitus, arthritis and other painful joint conditions as well as heart disease, and breathing problems. Other related health risks include heat intolerance, digestive disorders, skin and coat problems, cancer, and even premature death.
Obesity can cause an increase in blood glucose levels, which in turn causes the pancreas to secrete more insulin. In a diabetic pet the pancreas cannot produce sufficient insulin to stop glucose production, which means blood glucose levels get too high. When the levels are too high, the animal excretes glucose in their urine, causing symptoms of excess urination, excess thirst and weight loss.
Your Neighborhood Store for Pets
Bones, joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments all work together to give a dog pain free motion. If they are required to carry excess weight, they can become damaged. When the connecting tissues are damaged, painful arthritis can occur. Excess weight can also make ligaments such as the ACL more prone to tears. If torn, the knee becomes very unstable and the pet is unwilling to use it. Surgery must be done to correct this problem.
Potentially fatal, the extra work the heart must do to pump blood to more tissue in the body can lead to congestive heart failure.
Our pets are in real danger of not living as long as previous generations. Studies have shown that feeding to maintain proper body weight can increase life span up to 2 years.
Common Causes of Weight Gain
The most common cause of weight gain in pets is feeding too much food! Pets are at the mercy of their owners in regards to the amount of food they are given daily. We often overestimate the amount of food a pet needs. The food given may also be too high calorie for the pet’s energy level. Owners also need to account for treats added to their pet’s diet – especially with small dogs or cats, since a few treats can easily add up. Overfeeding can also be the result of an inappropriate measuring device – a measuring cup is appropriate, not a coffee mug, pet food scoop or other container.
Pets that don’t get enough activity may need fewer calories. With more and more pets being kept indoors, many have decreased energy needs. Unfortunately as more people are starting to lead sedentary lifestyles, their pets are following suit.
Weight gain can be the result of a medical disorder, and pet owners should always consult with their veterinarian.
Your veterinarian can assign a number 1 to 9 to best gauge your pet’s weight.
Pets can range from:
Ribs, spine and pelvic bones can be easily seen. Pet displays little abdominal fat.
Ribs, spine ad pelvic bones cannot be seen, but can be easily felt. Pet’s waist is easily defined. Belly curves up, when pet is viewed from side.
Ribs, spine and pelvic bones cannot be easily seen or felt. Pet’s waist is undefined and belly is rounded when pet is viewed from side.
How do you help manage your pet’s obesity and help them live a long, healthy, happy life?
Start with a commitment from everybody in the family to help your pet with their weight loss – the giving of extra food or treats from one person could easily undo everyone else’s progress.
Pick The Right Food
There are currently two options for weight loss in dogs and cats. The traditional approach is to feed a low calorie, low fat, high fiber food that is specifically formulated to make the pet feel full while reducing calorie intake. These work well for some pets.
Others advocate feeding a higher meat, higher protein, but reduced fat and calorie diet. Higher meat diets generally contain higher levels of protein than a traditional weight loss diet. Protein is important to prevent the loss of lean muscle mass while the animal is losing weight. Higher meat diets are also inherently lower in carbohydrates. These simple carbohydrates stimulate additional insulin secretion, which tells the body to store unused calories as fat. The higher meat content diets will help keep blood sugar and insulin levels stable, and also contribute to added lean muscle mass. If a dog has not responded well to a traditional weight loss diet, this type of diet is a good alternative for weight loss.
Feed The Right Amount
Make sure you are feeding the correct quantity for what your dog should weigh, not their current weight. Your veterinarian can help you decide what your pet’s ideal weight should be. Often times the recommended amount on the back of the bag is too much – many dogs have a different metabolism and different energy levels, and the same size dogs might require different amounts of food.
Pick The Appropriate Measuring Cup
What is a cup? A cup is not a coffee mug, a drinking glass, or a big gulp drink container! A cup is a measuring cup. In cases where a smaller animal gets only a portion of a cup per day, make sure to use the smaller measuring unit, don’t estimate from a larger portion.
Avoid Diet Pitfalls
Increase Activity Level
Dogs should get at least 20-30 minutes of outside exercise every day. Remember to start slow with pets who may not be used to vigorous exercise. Cats can be more difficult to exercise, so be creative. Consider adopting another cat as a playmate, and use chase toys to help increase activity daily.
Monitor Your Pet’s Weight Regularly
A healthy way to lose weight is to aim your pet to lose .5 – 2% of it’s body weight per week. For example, a 50 lb. dog should lose 1/2 lb to 1 lb per week. A weight loss of more than 2% per week can actually be harmful to your pet, especially in cats.
Obesity is a problem that is completely preventable and manageable. Help your pet live a longer, leaner, healthier, and more enjoyable life.
Need more information? Visit Pet Obesity Prevention's website!