A heavy discussion… your pet and obesity

Summer is just around the corner and many of us will be taking some sideways glances at the mirror and then heading down to the gym to work on our “beach bodies”. Sadly for our four-legged friends, we’re not the only ones facing “a little more of us to love” as a growing number of our pets are also becoming overweight.

In fact, the Australian Veterinary Association suggest based on a 2013 study that 41 percent of Australian dogs and 32 percent of cats were overweight or obese.

For most pets, there is absolutely no need for them to be overweight.

Fat is the body’s natural storage mechanism to help it prepare for any periods of food scarcity but with regular meals being provided once or twice a day, this just isn’t a problem for our pets.

Granted though, it can be confusing with feeding recommendations often being vague and this is made more confusing with the feeding of a variety of foods (biscuits, bones, dog-roll)

But they look so adorable!

They may look cute and cuddly but the negatives are actually quite serious; obesity decreases your pet’s lifespan, it increases the risk of heart disease, respiratory problems, osteoarthritis and unfortunately, just like in humans, diabetes.

How do I know if my pet is overweight?

The easiest way is to view your pet from above and gauge their size by the following charts (source: WSAVA).

Body Condition Chart for dogs

Body Condition Chart for dogs – click image to download PDF (1mb).

Body Condition Chart for cats

Body Condition Chart for cats – click image to download PDF (2 MB).

Also, you can feel along their ribs and you should be able to feel their ribs with a small amount of fat covering. Of course, if you have any doubt at all you can always bring them in and have a chat with our vets.

Cruel to be kind.

Sometimes you need to be cruel to be kind

All animals have different requirements for energy due to their different metabolic rates. No matter what diet or food is being fed, it is a matter of balancing the energy provided to the animal (energy in) with the energy used by the animal (energy out). If an animal is gaining weight, generally they are receiving more energy than they require and their food must be reduced or changed.

Portion control is the most effective method of reducing this abundance of “energy in” but it does require discipline from you the owner. In most cases, you are their only source of food so it’s up to you to control their portions and stick to a healthy and appropriate diet.

I don’t think it’s working…

Don’t despair if you are having difficulties in controlling your pet’s weight; there are various diets and management strategies that can be used and we’d be more than happy to work with you!

When they’re looking at you with those big adorable eyes just remember to be strong because effective weight management will allow them to live as long and healthy a life as possible!

Book online today or give us a call!