Obesity is a condition characterized by the presence of excess body fat that is sufficient enough to impair the health, welfare, and quality of life of the sufferer. Most people know that obesity is a considerable problem among humans. Unfortunately, it isn’t just a human crisis. Studies conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention have shown that around 59% of cats and 54% of dogs in the United States are considered to be overweight or obese.
Just like us, our pet’s health can be significantly compromised by being obese. It can also make existing health problems much worse. The overall effect can reduce the length and quality of your pet’s life. Some of the health conditions that can occur as a result of your pet being overweight or obese include:
- Respiratory conditions
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
Here are our top tips to help you keep your pet at a healthy weight.
EVALUATE YOUR PET’S CURRENT WEIGHT
Before you can start to manage your pet’s weight, you first need to establish whether they are overweight in the first place. Scales used at home aren’t always completely accurate, especially when trying to get your pet to stay on them! For the best evaluation, we recommend that you get the opinion of your vet.
MAKE A NUTRITIONAL COUNSELING APPOINTMENT
Most vets offer nutritional counseling. This service isn’t only for weight management, but it also looks at what balance of nutrients your pet needs to be as healthy as possible. For example, some animals would benefit from certain supplements such as glucosamine for those with arthritis. Your nutritional counselor will be able to advise you how many calories your pet should be eating to help them maintain or lose weight and will monitor their progress.
FOLLOW A WEIGHT LOSS DIET
If your pet needs to lose weight first, they must eat less than their body burns during the day. There is plenty of different weight loss feeds that you can choose from and your vet/nutritional counselor will be able to advise which your pet should be having. Once your pet reaches the desired healthy weight, you can then think about maintenance.
MONITOR PORTION SIZES
In order to ensure that you aren’t overfeeding your pet, you will need to monitor their portion sizes. You can easily give your animal too many calories during the day simply by serving up larger portions than is recommended. Check the labels on your pet’s feed or speak to your vet for more support.
WATCH THE TREATS
When you love and adore your pet, it can be tempting to share human foods and be generous with the treats. However, these are rarely good news for your pet’s calorie intake and can lead to them putting on weight rather than losing it. Resist the urge to give them table scraps and keep treats to a minimum, ensuring that they are factored into your pet’s calorie intake.
BOOST THEIR PHYSICAL ACTIVITY LEVELS
If you can, you should make sure that you increase your pet’s physical activity levels. This will help them to burn more calories, boosting their weight loss progress or helping them to maintain a healthy weight. Exercise also helps to keep your pet’s heart and lungs healthy, their mind busy and improves their overall wellness.
If you are concerned about your pet’s weight, our experienced and compassionate veterinary team at Geneva Veterinary Clinic in Geneva, OH would be happy to evaluate them and offer you support if a weight loss or management program is needed.