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Obesity in pets

September at the Clinic is all about your senior pets. We are offering a package of blood tests, a urine test and a health check to give your pet the best possible chance of staying healthy and happy for longer.
For this blog we are talking about obesity and how it effects all animals young and old and its particular effect in aging dogs and cats.
Did you know you could be literally aging your pet with kindness? The daily treats you give your pet may give the illusion that all is well, but the reality is that the extra treats and the resulting extra weight are causing lasting damage to your pet’s internal organs, bones, and joints, some of which can never be remedied even with a change in diet and exercise.
According to recent findings by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), more than 45 percent of dogs and 58 percent of cats can be classified as overweight or obese. A gain of even a pound or two of additional fat on some dogs and cats can place significant stress on the body.

Below are some of the conditions that can occur from being overweight.

1. Arthritis
Extra weight puts extra pressure on a dog’s joints. The cartilage in the joint deteriorates, which leads to arthritis. We can give pain medications, but weight loss can help significantly.


2. ACL
Too much weight is a well-known risk factor for tearing the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), an important ligament in the knee. A torn ACL must be repaired with surgery.


3. Heart and breathing conditions
Weight gain can cause heart disease and high blood pressure. It’s also linked to breathing problems. Overweight dogs are more prone to a collapsing trachea and laryngeal paralysis.  Untreated, these airway conditions could lead to a respiratory crisis which could be fatal if not treated.


4. Anesthesia risk
The heart and lungs of overweight and obese animals have to work harder during anesthesia. The animal struggles to breathe because he has difficulty expanding his chest. They often sleep too deeply or not deeply enough. In addition, overweight animals may take a long time to wake up after anesthesia.


5. Tumours
Obesity may increase the risk of certain tumours such as benign fatty tumours (lipomas), as well as breast and bladder cancer (transitional cell carcinoma).


6. Skin diseases
Overweight dogs have extra skin folds, which can cause irritation and infection by bacteria. This can lead to scratching, body odar and skin redness. Overweight dogs often have an unhealthy looking coat because it’s harder, if not impossible, for them to groom effectively.


7. Quantity and quality of life
Obesity can take up to 2 years off the life of your pet. Quality of life is also lower. Carrying extra pounds around takes a toll; overweight animals are slow to get down and up, they get winded or tired quickly and are less likely to play.


Tips to help your pet lose weight

1. Cut back on calories
Too many calories in + too little energy out = one rotund pet! The first step to help your dog or cat lose weight is reducing calorie intake. Chances are, they need less food than you think. This means no table scraps!

2. Focus on protein, cut back on carbs
Most commercial dog and cat foods are full of fillers that increase calories but not nutrition, leaving your pet with inefficient energy and excess waste. Consider switching your dog to a high protein and high fibre diet and your cat to a quality high protein diet. Consult with your veterinarian for tips on choosing the right food for weight loss.

3. Keep that water bowl full
Like humans, animals may turn to food when they are actually thirsty. Make sure your pet’s water dish is topped up with fresh, clean water, and keep an eye out for signs of dehydration. Good hydration has many health benefits, including softer skin and a shinier coat. Winning!

4. Reward with fun, not food
If you already feed your pet a high-quality food, and they are still gaining weight, it’s possible you’re giving them a few too many treats throughout the day. It’s fine to use food as a reward in training, but try good quality, natural treats broken into small pieces to avoid over-feeding. Also, don’t give your dog a treat unless they have earnt it. Better yet, start introducing non-food rewards. Try offering a game of chase or a belly rub instead!

5. More exercise!
A change can be as simple as picking up the pace on your daily walks.
Hitting the gym can feel like a chore to us humans, but for dogs, it’s all good fun! Introducing more exercise into your dog’s daily routine will not only help them lose weight but also keep their mind active.
This is just as important for cats too! Games in the house or the garden are be really fun for your cat. It will keep the brain active and perhaps stop them from climbing up your curtains!Remember to increase your exercise regime gradually so you don’t risk an injury.

6. Hydrotherapy
Swimming is a great way for your dog to exercise. Its non weight bearing so very good for older pets who may have more fragile joints. Most dogs love water so it’s sure to be a fun experience for them.

7. Slow and steady trims the waste!
Weight gain and weight loss does not happen overnight so don’t expect your animal to suddenly shrink! Providing a healthier, calorie controlled diet combined with an increase in exercise will slowly but surely help your pets get fitter and healthier resulting in a longer life span and a better quality of life.


If you would like advice on anything that you have read about or if you have any further question please feel free to ring the Clinic and talk to one of our vets.





Category: Small Animals