Obesity in Pets
Fight the pet obesity epidemic by following these guidelines.
Carrying extra pounds puts undo stress on the body’s joints, digestive, respiratory and cardiovascular systems. Even a few pounds of extra weight can tremendously increase the incidence of painful hip dysplasia and arthritis.
In addition, extra fat can actually act as another organ, increasing inflammation, affecting healthy hormone levels, and contributing to lethargy of cognitive brain function and body energy.
The following tips can be applied to help pets lose weight. Keep in mind that it is always essential to check with your veterinarian, who has personally examined your pet, before implementing any of these ideas. This is not a replacement for a visit to your vet, just some helpful tips.
Dogs and cats should have a visible waistline that tucks up behind the broader chest. You should easily be able to feel and count the ribs with gentle to moderate pressure when petting them. If you cannot feel and count ribs, or feel a waist, they are bigger than they should be.
However, a highly visible rib cage without touch is too thin. Pets with hip dysplasia should ideally be just towards the "under weight" side, rather than ideal.
It can often be difficult to recognize where there are blind spots in over-feeding our pets. Here are the most common:
Measure the food you give to your pet. Often the package recommendations over estimate how much you should be feeding. Also, pets need to be fed based on their ideal weight, not their obese weight.
For example, if the bag of food recommends 1½ cups daily for a 30 pound dog, but your dog’s ideal weight is actually 22 pounds, do not feed to maintain 30 pounds. Also, remember that the total daily recommendation is often best split into two daily meals—not doubled into two meals daily.
Many pets are not getting as much exercise as they should. This means they need less calories—anything in excess of what they can utilize immediately will turn into fat.
Increasing exercise, active playtime & massage can help pets to move more and lose weight. Many herbal remedies can also be useful. Have your pet checked for hormone disorders and joint stiffness that may be affecting their desire to move around more. Tall scratching posts, window perches, and interactive toys are helpful for cats to keep them engaged.
During less active times, feed less. During heavy hiking, pregnancy, lactation, or if fighting an infection or cancer, more calories are needed.
Do NOT over feed puppies, especially middle to large breed dogs, as this increases their chance of hip dysplasia and other degenerative joint problems.