As owners, we may not want to admit it, but many of our pets our overweight. Obesity has become a very common health problem among our cats and dogs. 40% of dogs in the United States are considered to be overweight or obese and about 30 % of cats are overweight or obese. Rates increase to 50% obesity in cats once they are over the age of 5. Many breeds of dogs are genetically predisposed to obesity including retrievers, dachshunds, basset hounds, boxers, terriers and spaniels.
Many owners feel that feeding treats or giving extra at mealtimes, gives the pet happiness and a better quality of life. In fact, it can decrease the cat or dog’s life expectancy and in return, the obesity can be a cause, or a symptom of many serious health conditions. Things obesity can cause or escalate are, arthritis, breathing problems, Diabetes Mellitus, cancers, fatty liver disease in cats, increased surgical and anesthetic risk, Cushing’s disease, and Hypothyroidism.
An overweight or obese pet has unnecessary stress on their joints. Weight loss can often provide an abundance of relief for pets that are experiencing arthritis issues when they have extra weight on their frame. The extra weight also puts unwanted stress on the lungs due to the extra layer of fat that is compressing the rib cage, therefore not allowing the lungs to fully inflate. Extra fat has also been shown to lead to insulin resistance in cats and dogs, which in cats can lead to Diabetes Mellitus.
If your dog or cat is overweight or obese, Dr. Melanie Wood and her staff at Main Street Animal Hospital can help you. We have a body condition score chart that we can show you to help determine if your pet is overweight. You should be able to feel the ribs of your dog or cat without being able to see them. When viewing your pet from the side, there should be a slight tuck upwards of their belly. When viewing your pet from above they should have a slight hourglass shape, some vets refer to this as a “coke bottle” appearance.
There are several ways to help your pet maintain a healthy weight. An appropriate amount of food for your pet can be determined by Dr. Melanie Wood based on their current weight, age, and amount of exercise they get. It is important to make sure that food is being properly measured in a cup that is measured in ounces so that the amount of food being fed can be accurately kept track of. At Main Street Animal Hospital, we can provide you with a measuring cup. On average, a normal healthy 60 pound dog should be fed about 1 cup twice a day.
If determined necessary by Dr. Melanie Wood, there are prescription diets that can be fed to your pet in order to help them lose weight. These foods often have a high fiber content to help the animal feel more satisfied even though they are taking in fewer calories. Regular weight checks are a good idea as well to gauge how well the efforts to lose weight are working. If weight loss is not happening as expected, more adjustments may be needed.
If you are concerned at all about the weight or health of your pet please contact us at Main Street Animal Hospital. Dr. Melanie Wood and the staff would be happy to help you with any questions that you may have.