Pet Obesity: Don’t Let Your Pet be Robbed of Good Health

More than 45% of dogs and 58% of cats can be classified as overweight or obese, as reported by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP). What is more, many pet owners are unaware that their pet is overweight. Pet obesity is often overlooked or condoned and owners underestimate the risks it poses. A gain of even a pound or two of additional fat on some dogs and cats can place significant stress on the body.

Risks of Pet Obesity

Obesity leads to several diseases in dogs and cats. Some of the conditions that can occur as a result of excess weight are:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Joint problems and arthritis
  • Exercise intolerance, decreased stamina
  • Heat intolerance
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Liver disease or dysfunction
  • Increased surgical and anesthetic risk
  • Skin and coat problems
  • Lowered immune system function
  • Increased risk of developing malignant tumors (cancer)

Obesity in cats can be associated with hepatic lipidosis. This is a severe form of liver failure in cats. It typically occurs in cats that are obese and have undergone a brief period of stress which causes anorexia. The stress may be as simple as a change of house or a change in diet. Hepatic lipidosis previously was an almost universally fatal disease in cats. Fortunately, with improved, aggressive and prolonged therapy about 80% of affected cats can now be successfully treated. However, because of the risk for this potentially fatal disease, the treatment of feline obesity needs to be done cautiously and always under the care of a veterinarian.

Weight Checks

Fat Orange Cat

Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial to ensuring your pet lives a longer and healthier life. At each annual exam, we’ll evaluate your pet’s weight based on a combination of weight charts and body scoring.

We’ll help you to maintain your pet’s health weight and if your pet needs to trim down, we’ll provide trusted counsel on safe weight loss. Diet and exercise are the key to ensuring your pet lives a longer and healthier life.

Causes of Obesity

Just as with humans, weight gain and obesity occur when pets receive more calories than they need or expend. A spayed or neutered pet will have a decreased metabolism compared to those that are still intact. Genetics can also play a role in obesity.

Hypothyroidism in dogs can be another cause of obesity and weight problems in dogs. Clinical signs of hypothyroidism include poor, brittle, and thin hair coat, lethargy and continued weight gain despite decreasing the amount of food intake. A simple blood test can help us diagnose this treatable disease.

Fat Pug

Most of the time, the cause of obesity in pets is overfeeding. Even the most well-meaning owner can be guilty of this. Obesity often develops insidiously. We think we are feeding our pets only small quantities of food but tend to forget the treats and table foods. These treats add calories and result in weight gain. Often times that small little treat would be a candy bar to us. Think about how many candy bars you are feeding your pet. Hills Pet Foods offers an enlightening human food to pet food translator.

Pet Weight Loss

With today’s advances in nutrition, weight loss has never been easier. Commercial low-calorie diets are available from veterinarians and provide the basis for a successful weight loss program.

Reducing caloric intake is more effective when combined with additional exercise. This also has the advantage of providing more time for interaction between the pet and the family, which we know provides enjoyment and is beneficial for the health of both. We are able to design a safe and effective weight loss program to meet your pet’s lifestyle.

General Weight Loss Recommendations

    • Discontinue feeding table scraps and high calorie treats
      Instead offer carrots, green beans, or veterinary-approved low-calorie treats (Lean Treats which are only 7 kilocalories vs. 80 kilocalories per small Milkbone).
    • Walks
      we encourage 30-minute walks twice daily.
    • Stop feeding any table scraps and treats
      Instead treat your cats with petting and affection. Also, consider switching or incorporating wet, canned food, which is less calorie dense than kibble.
    • Play with your cat 15-20 minutes a day
      This is particularly helpful for indoor cats and greatly enhances the human-animal bond.

Persistence is Key

Most pets can lose weight if you adhere to our recommendations. Weight loss is often a matter of diligence and perseverance. Weight lost slowly is safer and is more likely to stay off. Be careful not to backslide and resist the urge to overfeed. Food is not love, despite how our pets try to influence us to think otherwise.

We at Dupont Veterinary Clinic strive to help you and your pets live long, healthy, and happy lives together. Please contact us with any questions you may have about obesity or weight loss in your pets.

"Everyone was great! Beautiful facility. So warm and friendly."
— Mark B.