Many studies have shown that the majority of pets are overweight. In fact, approximately 55% of dogs and cats are overweight. The weight of your pet has a significant impact on their health and can even shorten their lifespan. Taking the appropriate steps can help to keep your pet at a healthy weight.
What Causes a Pet to Become Overweight?
In general, most pets become overweight due to a combination of overfeeding and a lack of exercise. This is very similar to how humans gain weight. However, some medical conditions, such as hypothyroidism, can also cause a pet to gain weight. It is important to pay attention to your pet’s weight to ensure that you aren’t overfeeding them.
Health Issues Caused by Excess Weight
There are multiple ways in which excess weight can impact your pet’s health. It is vital to ensure that they remain at a healthy weight in order to prevent these health issues from occurring.
Overweight pets have much shorter lives than pets that maintain a healthy weight. When you help them lose weight and maintain a healthier weight, they will live longer and be happier.
Diabetes is a common health concern with overweight people. The same thing applies to animals that are overweight. The more an animal weighs, the more likely they will be to develop diabetes.
The risk of heart disease increases exponentially for overweight pets. Taking the steps to maintain a healthy weight can prevent heart disease from impacting your pet’s health.
Arthritis and Joint Injury
Essentially when a pet is overweight, its body is handling more weight than it is intended to. This puts excessive amounts of pressure on the joints, which can lead to an increased risk of developing arthritis and injury of the joints.
Exacerbate Existing Issues
Health issues are often exacerbated when a pet gains excessive amounts of weight. It is always important to maintain a healthy weight for pets, but it is even more important to carefully monitor the weight of pets that already have health issues.
Greater Risk of Heatstroke
Pets that are overweight have a difficult time cooling themselves down. Their bodies retain heat more thoroughly, which puts them at an added risk of sustaining heatstroke.
Is your Pet Overweight?
There are many signs that may indicate that your pet is overweight. Learning these signs can help you to determine if your pet is overweight before the problem escalates to extreme proportions.
Feel for Ribs
It is easy to feel the ribs on a pet that is at a healthy weight. You can lay your hand along the ribs and press down gently. This should be ample pressure to feel their ribs. If you have to press harder than this or feel a layer of fat rather than the ribs, it is possible that your pet is overweight.
A pet should have a distinct figure. When this figure starts to blur, it is possible that they are overweight. In general, a pet’s chest should be wider than their abdomen. An overweight pet may not maintain any distinction between their chest and their stomach.
An overweight pet will often exhibit different behaviors than they did when they were at a healthy weight. They will likely pant when they are walking and may even walk more slowly than they did previously. Overweight pets also tend to nap more often than pets that are at a healthy weight.
If you are unsure whether your pet is at a healthy weight, you should consult your veterinarian. We have the tools and experience necessary to provide you with information regarding what weight is healthy for your pet, as well as advising you regarding techniques to help them lose weight. We are also able to provide prescription diets to aid with obesity, along with many other health issues.
How to Help an Overweight Pet
Due to the many health concerns that are associated with a pet being overweight, it is extremely important to provide the necessary care and steps to ensure that your pet is at a healthy weight. If you have determined that your pet is overweight, it is important to implement these steps to help them lose weight.
Preventative Care and Annual Checkups
Preventative care can help to prevent your pet from becoming overweight in the first place. It is additionally important to have annual checkups to ensure that any issues are caught in the early stages. Visiting your veterinarian can go a long way toward reducing the issues consistent with a pet that’s overweight.
Scheduled Portioned Feedings
Overeating is often an issue that causes a pet to be overweight. You should never leave food lying around when you are trying to get your pet to lose weight. Provide them with food on a consistent schedule and carefully measure their food.
Have a Team Plan
It is vital to ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to your pet losing weight. If one person is still giving the pet table scraps or extra treats, it will significantly impact your success.
Just like with regular weight loss, it is important to track the weight loss of your pet. This will help you to determine the effectiveness of your weight loss strategies and how to keep your pet at a healthy weight.
Don’t Feel Guilty
Many people feel like they show their love for their pet by giving them treats to make them happy. Don’t feel guilty when you have to put your foot down and help your pet lose weight. Substitute extra treats and table scraps with playtime and attention.
An overweight pet will likely have a plethora of health concerns. It is vital to ensure that your pet maintains a healthy weight to prevent these issues from occurring. Ensure that you know what foods are dangerous for your pet and never feed them these foods. To learn more about keeping your pet at a healthy weight, contact us at Borrett Animal Hospital today!