I know my pet is fat, but OBESE!?
Pet obesity is a growing problem and nationwide 59% of our feline patients are obese and 54% of our canine friends are obese. Dogs and cats with excess fat are at greater risk for developing diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and many forms of cancer. Obesity will affect their quality of life and longevity.
“Obesity can cause serious problems,” says Dr. Nicky. “It puts pressure on their joints and cardiovascular system and puts them at greater risk for diabetes.”
So how do you know if your pet’s obese? Pet’s that are 20% or more above their normal weight is considered obese. That means an 8-lb cat will be considered obese if he gains just 2 lbs!
Here are some physical signs that will indicate if your pet is obese: to figure out if your pet might be obese.
Can you feel her ribs? First, you should be able to easily feel – and count – your pet’s ribs when you lightly run your fingers across their side.
Does he have an hourglass figure? When you look down on your pet from above, you should see an hourglass figure or an indentation near the midsection. If your pet looks like a blimp from above, he’s probably overweight or obese.
Finally, when you observe your pet from the side as she stands, you should see an upward slope of the tummy. If her belly hangs low and drags near the ground, that indicates that the most dangerous form of fat, abdominal fat, is present.
Your pet’s weight will have a big effect on not only how long she lives, but the quality of her life. So, it’s time to get on an exercise and weight loss program - and we can help!
Check with your vet to adjust the amount of food your pet eats daily and determine their caloric needs. This can be a bit of a challenge because they’re used to eating a larger portion at mealtime, but Dr. Nicky recommends that you check the number of calories you are feeding your pet daily and reduce that number by feeding a calorie-restricted diet, offering low calorie treats or fewer treats. You can also add canned green beans for your pup or offer additional meals without increasing the total amount fed. “It’s not only good for them,” says Dr. Nicky, “but it will fill them up. “For cats, I recommend using a feeder that measures the food and feeds them small amounts at regular intervals along with a low-calorie indoor formula diet. Often cats require a prescription diet to help get them to a healthier weight.
At Animal Care Hospital, we’re happy to weigh your pet, calculate your pet's caloric need and help you understand the amount of food she needs daily.
“In general, I recommend that dogs get at least 30-minutes of physical activity a day and cats should get three 5-minute intense play periods,” says Dr. Nicky. Take your pup for walks or throw a ball or a frisbee in the backyard. For kitties, play with a toy or laser several times a day and change up her toys often so she doesn’t get bored.
“Bring your pet in to get weighed and we’ll tell you how much to feed daily. We can also help with an exercise program,” says Matt Johnson, CVT & Hospital Manager at Animal Care Hospital. A good feeding and exercise plan can get your pet back to their perfect weight and add a few years to their life.
Cindy Pervola, Lifetime Dog Owner, Business Consultant & Writer