Is your pet heading towards obesity?
There are an increasing number of obese dogs, cats and rabbits and they are developing health problems similar to overweight humans.
Obesity is defined as an excess of body fat that impairs welfare, health and quality of life. All types of pets are affected and the main cause is from lack exercise or over eating, although some diseases do cause obesity.
Pet obesity is serious issue because it can be extremely disabling and causes unnecessary suffering. It is also a preventable problem and can affect your pet for long periods.
There are certain factors that allow pets to become obese:
Owners – if the owner is obese, the pet is more than likely to be obese, perhaps this because they are less likely to be able to exercise their pet.
Breeds – there are certain breeds that have a higher risk.
Age – the risk of obesity increases with age, as the metabolism slows down.
Sex – obesity is reported to be more common in females.
Neuter status – neutered dogs and cats are more at risk.
Overfeeding - Owners don’t follow the feeding guidelines, as they either guess the amount or feed on demand.
Treats – Some owners feed their pets treats throughout the day and in many cases, cheese, takeaways, crisps and chips. Even if this is done in small amounts, the pets struggle to burn off the extra calories.
The health risks surrounding obesity
The length and quality of your pets’ life will be reduced – obesity causes serious health and welfare issues and can make any existing problems worse. Some of the more serious medical conditions associated with obesity are diabetes, heart disease, respiratory distress, Photolibrary, high blood pressure and cancers.
“The pet obesity epidemic is something that all veterinary professionals are increasingly concerned about,” said Sean Wensley, a senior veterinary surgeon with the PDSA.
Prevent your pet from becoming obese
You can monitor your cats or dogs with a few simple checks:
You should be able to feel and see the outline of your pets belly and ribs without excess fat covering them. When you view your pet from the side, the belly should be tucked in. If you feel your pet is over-weight or you’re in doubt, consult with your local vet. They can provide you with a health check and recommend a weight reduction program if necessary.
How to avoid Pet Obesity
Change the food – to a specially made, low calorie diet over a period of five to seven days, to avoid tummy upsets.
No more snacking - If you really must treat your dog, use a portion of its’ dry food. Carrots are a healthy alternate and are great for your pet’s teeth.
Weigh your pet food – monitor how much your pet is eating to see whether you should decrease its intake.
Small portions and often - three or four times a day is a great way to reduce the begging and give your pet something to look forward to.
Exercise – this is a major part of any weight loss program. Pet Health Advisors can guide you towards a suitable exercise plan for your pet.