Obesity in pets is a growing concern worldwide and can have serious health consequences for animals, just like it does for humans.
Obesity occurs when a dog or cat carries excess body fat and for each extra ounce of fat, your pet carries extra health risks!
The main problem with obesity is that it puts the body into a state of chronic inflammation. And we now know that inflammation, when out of control, is the root cause of almost every disease.
The specific risks associated with pet obesity are multifaceted and include a higher likelihood of diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, respiratory problems, and certain types of cancer.
Obesity can significantly reduce a pet’s quality of life, limit their mobility, and even shorten their lifespan.
As your Revel Veterinarians, we want to help! We see it as our responsibility to help address this issue through education, providing tailored weight management plans, and offering ongoing support to help pets achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
This is your ultimate guide to healthy weight for pets. Let’s get started!
Pet Obesity Prevalence and Health Risks
Obesity is increasingly common among pets, with estimates suggesting that over 50% of dogs and cats in the United States are overweight or obese. This estimate is likely on the lower side, and is still staggering!
So why is this number so high? There are several factors that contribute to obesity in pets, including:
- Overfeeding: Giving your pet too much food or feeding them high-calorie, low-nutrient foods can lead to excessive calorie intake.
- Lack of Exercise: Sedentary lifestyles, particularly in indoor cats and dogs, can contribute to weight gain.
- Breed Predisposition: Some breeds are more prone to obesity, such as Labrador Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, and Persian cats. If you have one of these breeds, it is not a life sentence, but rather something to be mindful of.
- Age: Older pets may be less active and have slower metabolisms, making them more susceptible to weight gain.
Again, the reason we are concerned about obese dogs and cats is because it can lead to a range of health problems.
But, don’t worry! If your pet is currently overweight, here’s your step-by-step plan.
How to Help Your Pet Reach a Healthy Weight
- Veterinary Assessment: Start by consulting your Revel Veterinarian to assess your pet’s overall health and determine the severity of their obesity. We can conduct a physical exam and may perform blood tests to rule out underlying medical conditions, such as hypothyroidism, which may be contributing to weight gain.
- Dietary Changes: Together, we will create a customized weight loss plan for your pet based on their specific needs. This plan typically includes:
- Nutrition Changes: We will calculate the daily calorie intake your pet needs to lose weight safely and gradually. Once we lay the numbers out, we can decide whether or not we should switch your pet to a weight management or prescription diet formulated for weight loss.
- Portion Control: We will provide guidelines for measuring and controlling your pet’s food portions to ensure they receive the appropriate number of calories.
- Avoiding High-Calorie Treats: We recommend avoiding high-calorie treats and table scraps.
- Regular Monitoring: It’s essential to monitor your pet’s progress throughout the weight loss journey. This may involve regular weigh-ins at our vet practice or we can make suggestions for using a pet scale at home. Adjustments to the diet and exercise plan may be made as needed.
- Exercise and Activity: Increase your pet’s physical activity gradually. Engage in daily exercise routines such as walks, playtime, and interactive toys. The type and amount of exercise should be tailored to your pet’s age, breed, and fitness level. We can help you create a program!
- Behavioral Changes: Address any behavioral factors contributing to obesity. For example, if your pet begs for food, work on obedience training to discourage this behavior.
Additional Tips and Resources
Weight loss is a process that requires patience and consistency. Here are a few more tips for ensuring success!
- Regular Veterinary Check-Ups: Continue to schedule regular check-ups with your Revel Veterinarian to assess your pet’s progress and adjust the weight loss plan as necessary.
- Prevent Relapse: Once your pet reaches a healthy weight, maintaining it is essential. Transition to a maintenance diet and continue regular exercise. Avoid falling back into old feeding habits or overindulging in treats.
- Address Underlying Conditions: If an underlying medical condition contributed to your pet’s obesity, such as hypothyroidism or diabetes, it must be managed alongside the weight loss plan. We can obviously help with this and will make sure it is part of the initial physical exam.
- Monitor Body Condition: Pet parents should regularly assess their pet’s body condition. Learn to recognize the signs of obesity, such as an inability to feel the ribs or an overly round appearance. If you’re unsure, consult your Revel Veterinarian for guidance on assessing your pet’s weight.
Remember that every pet is unique, and the treatment plan should be tailored to their specific circumstances.
We will work with you and your pet’s lifestyle to develop a plan. Successful weight management results in improved health, increased energy levels, and a longer, happier life for your pet, and who doesn’t want that?!