Obesity in Pets

Obesity is a condition where your pet has an excess amount of body fat. Obesity can develop for many reasons and is known to impair your pet’s health and wellbeing.

Reasons why your pet may be overweight:

  • Overfeeding – The guidelines on the bag of food are just guidelines and need to be adjusted based on individual needs.
  • Genetics – Some individuals and breeds are prone to obesity e.g. Golden Retriever, Labrador, Cairn Terrier, just to name a few.
  • Too many treats – Pet treats are often high in calories, and with 4-5 treats given daily this can equate to an extra meal.
  • Lack of exercise – An inappropriate level of activity for the quantity of calories consumed.
  • Metabolism – Neutered animals have a lower metabolic rate than entire animals, so need less food.
  • Some medical conditions promote weight gain.

Problems of an overweight pet include:

  • Arthritis – Due to stress on the joints, leading to joint degeneration and pain. • Respiratory problems – With excess fat forming around the chest, the pet is less able to take deep breaths, the lungs are not able to fully inflate and coughing results. The pet can also overheat more easily.
  • Diabetes mellitus – Excess body fat leads to insulin resistance.
  • Liver problems – The liver stores fat so when a dog or cat is overweight there is an increased build-up of fat in the liver, resulting in decreased liver function.
  • Reduced life span – Studies have shown that pets kept on the slender side of normal lived an average of 2.5 years longer than overweight pets.
  • Reluctance to eat a more appropriate diet – A diet high in treats and feeding human food, is potentially more appealing than a premium diet food (especially for the owner).
  • Increased surgical and anaesthetic risk.
  • Heart disease – Overweight dogs may have high blood pressure which can lead to congestive heart failure and other health problems.

What can be done for your pet?

  • A veterinary consultation to ensure no underlying health problems are present.
  • Dependent upon fi ndings from your veterinarian, management options usually involve diet modifications and exercise recommendations.
  • Feeding a set amount at specific meal times helps reduce snacking and grazing.
  • Regular weight checks with your vet clinic to ensure the pet is heading in the right direction i.e. Losing and not gaining weight. The nurses at Levin and Horowhenua Vets provide these weight clinics and are more than happy to help you to manage your pet’s weight.
  • Regular exercise for the pet e.g. Play activity or walking.