Being overweight or obese is a global problem for pets. The number of overweight pets is increasing and poses serious health risks along with shortening your pet’s life.
How to tell if your pet is a Porker
There are a few simple checks you can do to assess if your pet is overweight.
Your dog should have a visible waistline when looked at from above, round and balloon-like, means your dog is out of shape.
You should be able to see the outline of their ribcage and feel the general shape of their ribs with them appearing ribby.
Their belly should gently slope upwards and not sag towards the floor.
Your cat should have a visible waistline, slightly hourglass like,
Their belly should not droop towards the floor and there should only be a small amount of belly fat. Careful not to confuse belly fat with the cat’s primordial pouch.
All cats have a primordial pouch, with some breeds having larger pouches. The pouch is the long piece of loose skin running on the underside of your cats’ abdomen and is more noticeable towards the back legs. There are many theories as to its purpose, but it must not be confused with body fat when assessing your cats’ weight. It should gently sway as your cat moves whereas with an obese cat will be round and firm.
What are the risks of obesity?
Even as little as 20% extra body weight can increase the risk of serious disease conditions such as,
Urinary tract conditions
Metabolic disorders, such as hyperthyroidism
Kidney and Liver Disease
Fatty Tumours and Cancer
Rather than putting your pet at risk of obesity-related diseases and aggravation of existing conditions, get a professional opinion and take your pet for a weight check.
Risk to existing conditions
It is also important to keep in mind that extra weight can impact on existing conditions. If you have a pet with arthritis even a few extra kilos can make movement painful. If you pet shows any of the signs below, seek veterinary advice as they may be experiencing the onset of arthritis;
Reluctance to do things that were previously not a problem, such as playing or going on walks.
Difficulty when getting up from lying down or sitting.
Hesitancy to jump up onto the couch and climb stairs.
The development of a limp or looking tender when out on walkies.
Increased irritability, yelping when touched.
General tiredness and muscle wastage around the hip area.
Be extra vigilant as we head into winter as arthritic joints are more likely to become uncomfortable in the colder weather, cause pain and negatively affect your pets’ quality of life.
Consult with your vet as medication is available that will allow your pet to find relief and exercise a little more to keep the weight off.
So if your dog has love handles or your cat no waistline, what can you do about it?
Considertaking your pet to a vet for a weight check for a professional opinion on how you can assist your pet to lose the extra pounds slowly and safely.
Diet and extra calories
Count calories. All brands of pet food come with carefully calculated feeding guidelines. Check you are not feeding too much.
Pet diet food. There are brands on the market that come in “diet” versions. They are lower in calories and higher in nutrients. If you opt to feed them ensure you introduce them gradually, especially to cats who may go on hunger strike when you change food.
Don’t toss left overs into your pets bowl. Your pets may love them, but you are adding unnecessary calories.
Be aware of how many extra treats you give your pet daily. Treats can add in extra calories to your pets diet.
Don’t leave your cats food out all day as this encourages grazing, put it down for an hour at a time and then take it away.
Dogs love walkies! Start with a gentle exercise regime for your dog, build it up slowly so that your pet becomes gradually fitter.
Play games such as fetchto increase your dogs’ activity.
If your dog is obese, you can consider underwater treadmill therapy.
Exercising your cat can be a bit difficult but you can use play, such as chasing a feather teaser, rushing about after laser pointers and cat toys to help them exercise.
Catnip enhanced toys can be effective and make playtime a real fun time for your cat.
Invest in some climbing posts or build your cat a cardboard box castle, cats love to explore.
Playing and exploring is great exercise and mentally stimulating especially if you have an indoor cat.
Before you undertake any exercise regime with your pet check with your vet to ensure your pet is free of obesity related conditions such as arthritis or heart disease.
It is important to remember exercise alone is not likely to cause weight loss, it must be accompanied by a suitable weight loss food plan. You are your pets dietitian and gym instructor all rolled into one and you will have to ensure you stick to your pets weight loss plan, but it will all be worth it when you start to see the results and the increased energy and bounce your pet has. Miaow! Woof!