Instead of our typical Case of the Month, we wanted to talk about a “disease” that is increasing at alarming rates. I cannot give a specific case study from our own patients because there are just too many!
Recent statistics indicate that >50% of dog and cat pets are overweight. Why is this happening?
While there are indeed a few disease conditions that may be responsible, these instances are unusual. Typically it is because we are overfeeding and under-exercising our pets. As with our own weight management issues, your pet may be taking in more calories than he or she is burning off.
Just check out the website www.petobesityprevention.com for some shocking comparisons. For example, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention compares a 90 pound female Labrador to a 5’4” woman weighing 186 pounds, and a 15 pound Domestic Short Hair cat to a 218 pound, 5’4” woman.
So what can we do?
The first step is to limit your pet’s daily calorie intake.
• Decreasing treats can have a tremendous impact on weight loss. The above website indicates that a dog eating one pig ear is the equivalent of an adult human drinking a six pack of Coke.
• Lower calorie food is advisable for dogs, and perhaps a higher protein diet for overweight cats. As always, please discuss a healthy diet plan with your veterinarian.
The second step is to increase your pet’s exercise. Easy enough to say, but I understand it can be difficult to enforce. We do live in the Northwest, and weather often does not cooperate. However, the more your dog runs, walks, or swims the better.
Cats, especially those confined indoors, may tend to be inactive. Of course it is more difficult to exercise our feline pets, but you can always try toys and laser pointers.
What are the risks of continued weight gain?
There are serious health issues that are of concern to our overweight pets. For example, obese cats are at a significant risk of developing diabetes. Overweight dogs are more prone to arthritis, and extra pounds tend to worsen the condition.
We at Bothell Pet Hospital are committed to helping you help your pet with a weight loss program. Please feel free to bring your dog or cat in anytime for us to get a weight. Just like with us humans, seeing pounds decrease can be encouraging.
Don’t let this become your pet!