A Weighty Matter: Battling Pet Obesity
Images of portly pups and chubby cats are practically everywhere we turn these days, and it’s hard to deny the cuteness of these sweet pets. The problem of overweight pets is no laughing matter, however. Overweight animals can succumb to many of the same health problems as overweight and obese humans, including heart disease, high blood pressure, joint pain, cancer, and diabetes.
With over 50% of U.S. pets falling into the overweight or obese categories, the time to act on this problem is now. Your team at Mountainview Veterinary Hospital is dedicated to helping pet owners learn more about the problem of pet obesity.
Diabetes and Other Dangers
Overweight pets are at an increased risk of developing diabetes. In fact, recent studies show that the disease affects 1 in 50 dogs and cats. This statistic becomes even more sobering when we consider that, if left untreated, diabetes is often fatal.
Diabetes results when a pet’s pancreas stops producing insulin or the insulin produced is not utilized (also known as insulin resistance), causing elevated blood sugar and other health problems. Keeping pets at a healthy weight through diet and exercise is critical in preventing the insulin resistance that precedes diabetes.
An Honest Look
Many of us are so accustomed to the sight of overweight pets that it can be difficult to tell whether or not our own pets fall into this category. Take a moment to evaluate your pet for the telltale signs of extra weight, including:
- When viewed from the side, pets at a healthy weight have a slight tuck or tapered look to the abdomen where it meets the hips. Overweight or obese pets will have a drooping or oval-shaped belly.
- A pet at a healthy weight will have a visible waist when looking down at them from above.
- Feel your pet’s ribcage; in overweight pets the ribs cannot be seen or felt, even when pressing in slightly.
- Neck and hip fat are also indicative of obesity in pets.
Preventing and Managing Pet Obesity
Your trusted family veterinarian is your first line of defense against the ravages of pet obesity. Scheduling a nutritional consultation with us will reveal areas that could use improvement, and give you and your veterinarian the chance to discuss nutrition and exercise needs for your pet.
Consider the following tenets of achieving and maintaining a healthy weight for your furry friend:
- Reduce or eliminate treats.
- Choose healthy tidbits when you want to reward your pet, such as baby carrots or cooked green beans.
- Feed only at mealtimes.
- Commit to portion control! Measuring your pet’s food at each meal is a great way to ensure that you aren’t inadvertently serving extra calories.
- Make sure your pet gets some form of exercise daily. Walks, fetch, feather chase, and tug-of-war are all fun ways to introduce calorie-burning fun to each day.