Obesity in Pets
Unfortunately obesity is an increasing problem we see in pets which has significant health implications. It occurs when the energy intake is greater than the energy expenditure.
Factors contributing to weight gain, include overfeeding, feeding an inappropriate diet eg. Feeding human foods or excessive treats, and insufficient exercise. Neutering can also be a factor in weight gain as animals that have been neutered require around 30% less calories.
Some health problems have a higher incidence in obese animals including;
- Respiratory problems: Tracheal collapse, laryngeal paralysis, chronic bronchitis and feline asthma.
- Orthopaedic problems: Arthritis, cruciate disease and certain fracture types.
- Dermatology: Inability to groom, skin fold dermatitis, and general poor coat quality.
- Metabolic disease: Diabetes mellitus
- Urinary problems: Feline lower urinary tract disease (recurrent cystitis in cats) and incontinence in female dogs.
Obesity can also significantly increase the risks involved with general anaesthetics and surgical procedures.
For an animal to lose weight it is necessary to increase the energy expenditure and decrease the energy intake.
Increasing the energy expenditure is achieved by increasing exercise.
- Increasing number and/or length of walks
- Hydrotherapy if arthritis/weight/other issues restrict walks
- Fetch and retrieving games
- Off lead exercise
- Increasing play time
- Using activity balls and feed toys
- Feeding at a height (cat has to jump/climb to reach food)
- Hiding food
Decreasing energy intake - This is achieved by reducing the number of calories the animal is consuming. This means sticking to a recommended diet.
There are a number of veterinary recommended prescription foods available aimed at weight loss in cats and dogs which have a lower calorie content than most commercial pet foods. This means that feeding the recommended amount of one of these diets provides less calories without restricting other essential nutrients within the diet.
If you think your pet is overweight contact Petvets for a free weight check and advice.