Your pet’s weight, muscle condition, and body condition are very important to the overall health of your pet. Having too much or too little fat is detrimental for your pet. This blog will focus on the problems associated with being overweight and what we can do about it. Currently, over 50% of pets face considerable risk to their health due to being overweight or obese.
Many diseases can be caused/worsened by obesity, or that obesity significantly increases the chance of. Some of these illnesses include diabetes, arthritis, liver disease, lung disease, heart disease, heat exhaustion, skin disease, matting, high blood pressure, mobility issues, spinal disease, gastrointestinal disease, as well as overall shortening of your pet’s life span.
The main reasons pets are overweight is that they are:
- Fed too much or “Free Fed” (bowl of food left out at all times).
- Fed a food that is too high calorie or of poor quality.
- Do not get enough exercise/enrichment.
- Given too many treats and or table scraps.
Ask your veterinarian at your pet’s regular health visits about your pet’s weight, body condition, and muscle condition. You can also give your pet a good feel and look at home; if you notice the following, your pet may be overweight:
- Can’t easily find/feel the ribs, spine, shoulders, or hip bones (or are under a considerable amount of fat).
- Their belly or waist area hang lower or is at the same height as their chest instead of being slightly slimmer /tucked up/hourglass-shaped.
- They have decreased energy or decreased ability or desire to play/run/jump.
- They have matts, dandruff, or trouble grooming themselves- especially their lower back and flank area.
Tips to help maintain and reach your pet’s healthy weight are:
- Feed your pet the proper amount of food a day as recommended by your veterinarian or by following the guidelines on your pets’ food bag. It is advised to measure their daily amount of dry food and place it in a sandwich bag or empty jar to feed on during the day to prevent accidental over/double feeding.
- Eliminate treats and table scraps or switch to low-calorie healthy treats. Treats and snacks should make up a max of 10% of your pet’s daily caloric intake. Use kibble from your pet’s daily portion as often as you can instead of treats.
- Always ensure fresh water is available, at least two bowls of water refreshed 2-3 times a day. A water fountain is recommended to help increase water intake. Canned food is recommended to help with weight loss or water can be added to kibble to help your pet feel full and increase hydration.
- Encourage exercise — You can encourage exercise more at home by motivating them to get up when they’re lying down. Trying toys/lasers, taking outside on a leash (ensure you have parasite prevention!), etc. You can also try feeding them with a “snack/food portion” ball or “food puzzle.” It is a ball/puzzle/special feeding bowl you can find at most pet stores that have a few adjustable holes/knobs that require your pet to play with in order to get the food out. You can even make your own game out of feeding like hiding food for them to find or throwing/rolling it around for them, which helps simulate hunting/foraging behaviours and keeps your pet active. For cats, please ensure they have multiple levels to explore and climb like a cat tree or shelving. Dogs need to go for runs and play, not just walks. Studies from the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association claim that 55% of dogs and 70% of cats do not get enough playtime or exercise from their family/owners.
For weight loss at the Annex Animal Hospital, we offer monthly complimentary consultations for our patients with our Registered Veterinary Technicians. They will help your pet lose weight with the purchase of any of our recommended diets. It is important for them to come in for these weigh-in appointments once they start a weight loss diet. It’s important to ensure they are losing weight but not too much or too little (too fast can cause health problems). Only 1-2% weight loss per week is acceptable, which is why we need to monitor closely. These appointments will allow us to adjust how much food your pet can eat as they reach their goal weight. It is important for us to not only have the weight of your pet but to perform a physical exam which allows us to tell the muscle and body condition of your pet. It’s not just about the number of kilograms/pounds they are but how they are feeling and reducing the chances of obesity-related illness.
If you have any questions, or if you would like to book an appointment with us, you can contact us at 416 537 3128 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.